The episode was the result of a controversial DCFS policy that classified parents’ refusal of their newborn’s vitamin K shot as medical neglect, a move that thrust the agency into a contentious debate over the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s care. The policy was rescinded a year ago as agency leaders sought to ensure that DCFS wasn’t “overstepping the boundaries” of state law and determined the shots should not be classified as medically necessary.
…On Monday, the Boughers and several other parents filed a sweeping federal lawsuit accusing the agency, its current and former leaders, a number of doctors and three hospitals of violating their constitutional rights just after the births of their children. Hours that should have been filled with happiness and family photos were instead filled with uncertainty, they said, as children were temporarily taken into protective custody, DCFS caseworkers were called and the parents were made to feel like criminals.
The lawsuit contends DCFS and medical staff broke state and federal law by improperly seizing newborns or threatening to do so, said Richard Dvorak a lawyer for the families. It alleges that doctors continued to coerce parents, citing the inevitability of DCFS intervention, even though they knew the policy had been rescinded.
…Nurses finally returned the baby to the Boughers about 8 p.m. that night, without any explanation, they said.
The next day, a DCFS investigator showed up in Angela Bougher’s hospital room to say doctors confirmed the baby was healthy and that she was going to deem the medical neglect allegation unfounded.
But to close the case, the investigator said, someone would have to visit the Boughers’ home to verify their other children were unharmed. About a week later, several Joliet police officers appeared at their home, they said, furthering their ordeal. The experience left the Boughers shaken, distrustful of the medical community and fearful whenever they have to go the hospital.
…An obstetrician at the hospital told Anderson she would suffer no consequences for declining the shot, according to the lawsuit.
But in the delivery room, when Anderson said no to the shot, a doctor warned the hospital “would take away her baby,” according to the lawsuit, which added that numerous doctors, nurses and hospital officials tried to convince Anderson to allow the shot for her baby girl.
When Anderson continued to decline, a doctor came into her room with hospital security, saying he was going to physically remove the baby, the lawsuit said.