Florida Hospital Forces Woman to Undergo C-Section Against Her Will
(Photo: Corbis Images)
Many pregnant women spend months deciding on a birth plan — how and where they want to deliver, in a way that’s best for them and their baby. But one Florida hospital recently told a pregnant woman ahead of her birth that it planned to overrule her wishes and force her to have a Caesarean section she didn’t want. On Friday, it did just that.
Jennifer Goodall of Cape Coral, Florida, got a letter earlier this month from nearby hospital Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, where she had been planning to give birth naturally, saying that it would not allow her to try to have a vaginal delivery because she had had C-sections in the past. A VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian) is a controversial procedure for some doctors, who think it’s too risky to pursue. Goodall’s three previous children were all delivered via C-section.
The letter, sent when Goodall was already 38 weeks pregnant with her fourth child and therefore very close to her due date, stated that if she refused to get the C-section, she would be reported to the Department of Children and Family Services. Her lawyer, Patricia E. Kahn, filed a motion to get a temporary restraining order against the hospital, but the request was denied by a judge, who said that Goodall didn’t have the “right to compel a physician or medical facility to perform a medical procedure in the manner she wishes against their best medical judgment.”
Goodall gave birth via C-section on Friday. On Sunday, dozens showed up in front of the hospital to stage a protest. The partcipants, mainly women, held up signs with slogans like “Honk if you hate forced surgery.” Goodall supporters also began a #JenniferIsNotAlone campaign on Twitter and Facebook and launched a petition on change.org.
“Every woman deserves the right to make choices about their birth and every woman deserves the right to say no if she doesn’t want to consent to surgery,” Shannon Mitchell, a mother of four, told local news station WZVN. “Florida’s patient bill of right says we can refuse any procedure we want. And refusing cesarean is a procedure,” she added. Mitchell says that she, too, was also pushed into having C-sections.