Saturday, October 13, 2007

I have to share this story that was posted on my message board. There are a number of things that bother me about it:

1. The parents cannot opt their child out of testing for religious beliefs and/or reasons of conscious. Many states do allow this exception, but apparently Nebraska does not.

2. The child was removed from the home, even though the parents posed no danger or flight risk to the child. In a previous court case regarding the same issue with their daughter, she was allowed to stay in the home

3. The judge banned the mother from breastfeeding the child. She had been going to the foster home 9 times a day to feed, but the judge deemed this inappropriate, saying, "I don't approve of Mom popping in (to the foster home) nine times a day to nurse." Why ever not?

This is scary stuff folks.

Omaha Court Case Widens From Screening Test To Baby's Meals


A judge ordered that 6-week-old Joel Anaya, whose hungry cries interrupted Friday's court hearing, be administered the state-mandated newborn screening test his parents object to and remain in foster care until the test results are received, despite the mother's wishes to continue nursing the boy.

Mary Anaya in 2003. Joel's parents, Mary and Josue Anaya of Omaha, object to the testing because of their religious beliefs and conscience. They believe in certain Scriptures that say life is in the blood.

The Anayas previously fought a court order that the testing be done on their daughter, Rosa, but in 2005, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the order to have the testing performed. In that case, Rosa remained in the Anayas' custody while the case was being argued.

State law requires metabolic testing of all newborns. The tests, which involve pricking a baby's heel and drawing about five drops of blood, are used to screen for a variety of conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. Doctors recommend the test be performed when babies are between 1 day and 1 week old, because the diseases could lead to mental retardation or death.

Most states provide some sort of exception for people who object to the blood tests based on "religious" or "sincerely held" beliefs. Nebraska has no such provision.

Joel was taken into state custody after a petition was filed Wednesday in Douglas County Juvenile Court. Prosecutors argued that because Joel has not received the testing, he is at risk for mental retardation or death.

Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich agreed.

"I can't imagine greater risk than death or disability. How does it get any worse than those two things?" she said at Friday's hearing, which was held to determine whether Joel should remain in state custody or be returned to his parents.

Crnkovich said she didn't believe the Anayas would follow the order to have the testing done, so she ordered that the boy remain in foster care until preliminary results confirm no further testing is needed.

"I don't know how long it will take. I am sensitive to the love of these parents. But I have to admit, I don't understand placing a loved one at risk. That one boggles the mind," Crnkovich said.

Hospital staff say results could take about a week.

Earlier in the hearing, Mary Anaya, who has been visiting her son several times a day in foster care to breastfeed, cringed when she heard him crying from outside the courtroom.

Dressed in a conservative black suit, she told the judge her convictions prevented her from swearing, so instead she "affirmed" to tell the truth before taking the stand. During her testimony, she answered questions about her son's feeding habits. "Do you nurse your baby?" her attorney, Jeff Downing, asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"How many times per day?"

"Eight or nine times," she said.

"If I said someone came in and said the baby needs nursed, this would be about the right time, wouldn't it?"

Interrupting, Crnkovich said the line of questioning was inappropriate and briefly talked to the attorneys in private.

She then left the courtroom, and when she returned, she quipped, "It has come to the court's attention . . . that the child is hungry and needs to be fed."

She ordered workers with the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department to take the baby out of the courthouse, feed him, and not bring him back.

She later added, "I don't approve of Mom popping in (to the foster home) nine times a day to nurse."

The hearing continued with Mary Anaya on the stand.

When asked what her objection to the testing was, Anaya said the Bible states that life is in the blood. "To me, the blood is something important and not to be tampered with," she said.

Anaya and her husband are ordained ministers and administrators of the Mission for All Nations food and clothing pantry in Omaha. They take their faith very seriously and are raising their children according to those beliefs, Anaya told the court.

But after the hearing, crying in a courtroom hallway, Mary Anaya seemed more concerned about her son being fed than the testing being done.

"This is inhumane — to deny my right to feed my baby," she said, distraught over where her baby had been taken.

The Anayas have 10 children aged 21 years to 6 weeks. They have avoided having the metabolic screening done on most of their 10 children.

1 comment:

Holly said...

That just ticks me off. The judge is putting her own personal opinions over beliefs in this case in regards to both the breast feeding and the testing. ANY kind of testing should be done voluntarily, or else it limits our freedoms. Freedom over our bodies (and our minor children's bodies), and freedom of religion. It's unconstitutional. As long as there is no neglect, and at the first sign of anything wrong with this child I'm sure the parents would act, there should be no case. It makes me so mad that there is. :( After all, for thousands of years we did not have this testing. It should be a perk, not a requirment.