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You must have all seen them the newspaper reports about children who died or were injured at the hands of abusive parents. In many cases, it later turns out that social services were aware of the abusive home situation of such children, yet failed to act for whatever reason. Often, ironically, that reason is keeping a family together. Ironic why? One baby was taken away from loving and competent parents after her mother refused to sign a consent form for a cesarean section but then gave birth vaginally to a healthy daughter in 2006.

The baby was placed in foster care because a court decided that the mother's refusal to sign a consent form in advance amounted to child abuse. Even though she said she was willing to have a c-section as soon as it would become medically necessary, and even though she gave birth vaginally to a healthy baby, proving that her judgment of the situation and not the doctors' was correct. Is this what happens when someone exercises their right to informed consent or refusal?

The baby girl was taken away from her mother, known only as VM, immediately after giving birth in April 2006 at St Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey and has been separated from both parents ever since. VM appealed and failed, but received some hope when the appeals court ruled in her favor by reversing the earlier decision that she was "unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child". The appeal resulted in the baby's father being granted access, but she remains in foster care. The family is now waiting to hear whether they will ever be reunited with their daughter. This is just appalling. My heart breaks for this little girl and her parents. What do you think about this story? Would you ever delay consenting to a doctor's recommendation to have a c-section?

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