A young mother who refused to have her baby by caesarean section had the police appear at her door and threatened to take her to the hospital in handcuffs.
The 23-year-old mother of four had planned a natural birth after two previous C-sections, but claimed doctors denied her the option even though her baby was doing well.
On 10 August 2021, after refusing a caesarean section the previous day, Heather, not her real name, claimed that a policewoman and a social worker from the NSW Department of Communities and Justice in Deniliquin came to her home to take her to the hospital. hospital.
“I was so tired that I cried with tears running down my face,” she said of the ordeal.
Officials say the decisions were made in the best interest of the patient and her baby.
Heather claims she was forced to have her baby (pictured) by C-section
Heather breastfeeds her baby, who had to be delivered by caesarean section at the insistence of doctors and authorities
Heather was told she would be taken to the hospital in handcuffs if she did not agree to have her baby (pictured) by C-section
“They told me I would have a stillbirth if I tried to have a vaginal delivery. They told me my vagina was too fat and my baby would get stuck. I knew it was wrong. I know women older than me who have had babies,” Heather said.
“They told me that if something went wrong, they couldn’t help.”
Heather told Daily Mail Australia that authorities said they were concerned about how far away she lived from the nearest hospital.
“Which didn’t make sense because other women in the town had given birth in Shepperton, 137km away, without having to go early,” she said.
Heather claimed the policewoman told her a story about a relative who went into labor and lost the baby after giving birth on the side of the road on her way to the hospital.
I knew it was just another scare tactic. The policewoman said that she could come willingly, but if she didn’t, they would handcuff me,” she said.
“My main idea was to make sure the kids didn’t see it, so I asked if I could go get my hospital bag.
I was petrified. I was afraid of losing my children. I went inside and cried as I finished packing my bag.
Heather was taken in the social worker’s car to Jerilderie Hospital after Shepperton Hospital was unable to provide a bed.
Once at the hospital, the social worker told her that the policewoman would be posted outside her door.
Heather (her son pictured) has been traumatized by her experience with the New South Wales authorities.
Around midnight, Heather said she was taken to Shepperton Hospital, locked in the delivery room and told there was a security guard posted outside the door.
A doctor did not come to see her until 10:30 am, she said.
When the doctor finally arrived, Heather pleaded for a natural birth as she had two young children at home to care for and she had suffered from severe postpartum depression after the previous two cesarean sections.
Heather claimed the doctor told her she would have to go to a Melbourne hospital to have a natural birth, which would see her children removed from her care and likely result in a custody battle with authorities to get them back.
I knew it was true. She was so scared, but she was also so tired that she could barely keep her eyes open,” she said.
Heather and her husband reluctantly consented to the C-section.
‘It felt rushed. Everything was happening around me and I was there to witness it. She was so tired and I just cried with tears running down my face. Nobody talked to me,’ he said.
Heather was already a mother when the doctors insisted they knew what was best for her. Her baby appears in the photo along with her little son.
Heather felt pressured to have her baby (pictured) by C-section
Two days after returning home from a forced C-section, Heather says social workers came knocking on her door again.
For the next six months, Heather was forced to participate in a Brighter Futures program, an early intervention program to “build resilience in vulnerable families with young children.”
Heather said the experience left her traumatized and she continues to see a psychologist after suffering from severe postpartum depression following the delivery.
Bashi Kumar, a lawyer who specializes in human rights in childbirth, said an unborn fetus was not a legal person and the New South Wales government had acted illegally.
“By intervening, the DCJ is illegally forcing a pregnant woman to undergo medical treatment,” Ms. Kumar said.
‘The NSW Children and Young People Act 1998 does not give the DCJ any rights over a pregnant woman, who is the only person with legal rights and responsibilities over her body before birth.’
Ms Kumar said the Act allowed health professionals to make a “prenatal report” but did not give the DCJ any authority to compel or threaten a woman to undergo medical treatment until the baby was born alive and physically separated. from his mother.
“The DCJ has a history of misusing the prenatal reporting provision to discriminate against the most vulnerable women in our society, using it as a basis to separate indigenous babies from their mothers within minutes of giving birth,” the DCJ said. Mrs. Kumar.
‘What DCJ has done is illegal. It is acting beyond its statutory powers and it is an action that must be legally challenged and a complaint filed with the respective human rights institutions.”
Goulburn Valley Health’s chief clinical operations executive, Donna Sherringham, told Daily Mail Australia that clinical decisions were always made by experts based on what was best for the patient and their baby and related issues at the time.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Justice said it could not comment on the case, but was committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of the children.
“This includes the protection of unborn children where there are concerns for well-being,” the spokesperson said.