A newborn baby was taken from a Pennsylvania woman by police and a social worker, and the mom is now speaking up.
The mom, Jodi Ferris, recounted the story in a podcast newly posted on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website.
The social worker and police officers took the baby from Ferris at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., in June 2010, just hours after birth, allegedly because the mom refused to let the baby get a vaccination and because she preferred natural childbirth over hospital delivery. The workers reportedly kept the baby girl for around 48 hours and only let Ferris see the infant every few hours. The infant was eventually returned to Ferris and her husband, Scott, but only after a court order.
“That afternoon a social worker and two police officers came to the hospital and took our baby and kicked us out of the hospital,” Ferris said in the HSLDA podcast.
Ferris thinks the infant was taken from her because she refused to let the child be vaccinated for Hepatitis B, according to The Minot Daily News. The baby was born in an ambulance in the medical center parking lot after Ferris was rushed there in premature labor. Ferris had wanted to give birth at home but couldn’t because her midwife could not arrive in time.
Belief in Alternative Medical Care May Have Led to Removal
“They just didn’t like the fact that you had told them you had intended to have a home birth,” HSDLA Chairman Michael P. Farris said of the incident. (He is not related to Jodi or her husband, Scott.) “In the minds of some hospital staff, some social workers and some law enforcement personnel, parents are suspect number one right out of the gate.”
The HSDLA chairman believes Ferris’s daughter was taken because her parents had chosen alternative medical care. Ferris said the hospital staff members became angry because she had challenged their authority.
“I think the hospital staff took our wanting information as a challenge to their authority,” Jodi Ferris said. “One nurse told us that she took our questions as a personal attack against her qualifications as a nurse.”
“The hospital’s attitude was we’re the experts so just do what we tell you,” Jodi Ferris said. “It bothers me that the doctors and the hospital were offended by our questions and used the so-called emergency removal to override our decisions just because they disagreed with us.”
Staff Lied to Parents of Newborn Daughter
“At first they told me that I wasn’t allowed to see her because she had almost died and they were still working on her,” Ferris said of her daughter. In reality the daughter was healthy and was actually being given a bath. Scott Ferris was watching the supposedly dying baby being bathed as her mother worried.
Parents Forced to Spend the Night in Walmart Parking Lot
It was after these incidents that police and a social worker came to Jodi’s room and escorted her out of the hospital. Jodi claims that the social worker had tried to force her to sign a “safety plan.” The plan supposedly involved vaccinations to which Ferris objected. If she did not agree to the safety plan and to “whatever the hospital wanted,” she would lose custody of her baby, she was told.
After leaving the hospital the Ferrises had to spend the night in their car in a Walmart parking lot. The next day the couple was able to obtain a court order that forced the hospital staff to release the baby to them.
Jodi Ferris claims that the hospital staff did everything she opposed including giving her daughter a Hepatitis B vaccination. The staff never performed the test.
“We won in court but by the time we got back to her the hospital had done everything we objected to,” Ferris said.
Parental Rights at Risk
The Home School Legal Defense Association has taken the case because Michael P. Ferris believes that parents’ right to make decisions about children’s medical care is at risk. The Association wants to get a clear court ruling that would prevent incidents like this in the future.
The HSLDA filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Scott and Jodi Ferris. A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the couple and threw out a motion by the hospital to dismiss the case. That means the Ferris case will proceed and could establish an important legal precedent protecting parents to make decisions about children’s medical care.
To listen to the podcast click here.