Woman Opts for Vaginal Birth, FL Hospital Threatens Child Services

A hospital in Florida is violating a woman's right to make sound medical decisions regarding herself and her unborn child after trying to force her to have a C-section she did not want to have or risk being reported to Child Protective Services.

As Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check reports, the hospital sent their demands to the woman earlier this month:

Jennifer Goodall of Coral Gables was informed in a July 10 letter from the chief financial officer of Bayfront Health Port Charlotte that because she decided to attempt vaginal delivery before agreeing to cesarean surgery in her fourth pregnancy, her prenatal care providers intended to report her to the Department of Children and Family Services, seek a court order to perform surgery, and perform cesarean surgery on her "with or without [her] consent" if she came to the hospital.

Goodall was denied a temporary restraining order against the hospital by a federal court, saying Goodall had no "right to compel a physician or medical facility to perform a medical procedure in the manner she wishes against their best medical judgment." Keep in mind the C-section is not medically necessary.

Goodall's first three children were all delivered by C-section, and she has opted for a VBAC, or a vaginal birth after cesarean for her fourth. VBACs carry some risk, however 90% of women who have had C-sections are viable candidates and roughly 60-80% can successfully give birth vaginally. The pain and recovery for VBACs is on average easier to deal with than that of a C-section, despite increasing pressure for pregnant women to undergo one.

But it looks like Bayfront Health Port Charlotte is merely concerned with malpractice liability. In a statement, Goodall acknowledged that she would "definitely consent" to surgery if it became necessary at any point during labor:

My decision to allow labor to proceed before consenting to a surgical intervention is based on years of research, careful consideration of the risks to me and my baby, and my family's needs. All I want is to be able to go to the hospital when I'm in labor and have my medical decisions respected – and my decision is to proceed with a trial of labor and not have cesarean surgery unless some medical complication arises that makes cesarean surgery necessary for my or my baby's health. Instead of respecting my wishes like they would for any other patient, my health care providers have made me fear for my safety and custody of my children. The people who are supposed to be caring for me and my baby have put me into an even more dangerous situation. I know I'm not the only one to go through this; I'm speaking out because pregnant women deserve better.

As Jacobson explains, this is not the first time a hospital in Florida has threatened severe legal action against pregnant women who do not with to undergo medically unnecessary C-sections, and yet it is still a massive violation of a woman's autonomy.

Image via Getty.