Tag Archives: baby

Police: Newborn left in Christmas nativity manger at church

For a short time Monday afternoon, the Christmas manger at a New York City church might’ve been able to pass for the real thing: A newborn baby, with the umbilical cord still attached, was abandoned there. Now, New York City police are searching for whoever left the child.

It was around 11:30 a.m. Monday when a custodian at the Holy Child of Jesus Church in the Richmond Hill section of Queens left the empty chapel to get lunch. When he returned shortly after 1 p.m., he heard a baby crying, but saw no one else around.

That’s when, New York City police said, the custodian turned to a nativity scene in the front of the church and saw a newborn baby wrapped in towels laying in the manger. Church pastor Christopher Heanue wrote on the church’s Facebook page that the baby was a boy and weighed a little more than 5 pounds.

Emergency crews brought the newborn to a local hospital, where he was in good health, police said.

New York has a so-called safe haven law that says a newborn can be dropped off anonymously at a church, hospital, police or fire station without fear of prosecution. But the law, known as the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, requires that the child be left with someone or for authorities to be called immediately. Police said that didn’t happen in this case, which has led investigators to begin searching for the person who dropped the child at the church.

Officers were canvassing the neighborhood around the church on Tuesday, looking for surveillance cameras that may might recorded something police can use. Authorities said they were also questioning witnesses to try to track down the baby’s mother.

“Let us pray for this child,” Heanue wrote, “for his parents and for whomever will receive him into their home.”

Utah reviewing judge’s order removing baby from home of lesbian parents

Utah state child welfare officials are reviewing a ruling by a juvenile court judge who ordered a baby to be taken from lesbian foster parents and instead placed with a heterosexual couple for the child’s well-being.

Judge Scott Johansen’s order earlier this week in the central Utah city of Price raised concerns at the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, agency spokeswoman Ashley Sumner said.

Its attorneys plan to review the decision and determine what options they have to possibly challenge the order.

The ruling came during a routine hearing for April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce. They are part of a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country, Sumner said.

Attempts to reach Hoagland and Peirce on Wednesday were unsuccessful, but the couple told KUTV (http://bit.ly/1Sjph1o) that they are distraught after the ruling that calls for the baby girl they have been raising for three months to be taken away within a week.

They said Johansen cited research that children do better when they are raised by heterosexual couples. Hoagland believes the judge actually imposed his religious beliefs.

“We are shattered,” she told the Salt Lake City TV station. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Johansen is precluded by judicial rules from discussing pending cases, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

A full transcript of his ruling has not been made public and may not be because court records of cases involving foster children are kept private to protect the kids, Sumner said.

Sumner said she can’t speak to specifics of the case but confirmed that the couple’s account of the ruling is accurate – the judge’s decision was based on the couple being lesbians. The agency isn’t aware of any other issues with their performance as foster parents.

The agency is tasked with trying to keep children with one family as long as the parents are providing adequate care.

All couples are screened before becoming foster parents.

“We just want sharing, loving families for these kids,” Sumner said. “We don’t really care what that looks like.”

The ruling triggered a heated response from the Human Rights Campaign. The LGBT rights group called the order shocking, outrageous and unjust.

2-year-old kills mom in conceal-and-carry accident at Idaho Walmart

A 29-year-old woman described as a “beautiful, young, loving mother” was fatally shot by her 2-year-old son at a northern Idaho Walmart in what authorities called a tragic accident.

The boy reached into Veronica J. Rutledge’s purse and her concealed gun fired, Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Stu Miller said. The woman was shopping on Dec. 30 with her son and three other children, Miller said.

Rutledge was from Blackfoot in southeastern Idaho, and her family had come to the area to visit relatives.

She was an employee of the Idaho National Laboratory, The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington, reported. The Idaho Falls laboratory supports the U.S. Department of Energy in nuclear and energy research and national defense.

The woman had a concealed weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into his mother’s purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time.

Deputies who responded to the Walmart found Rutledge dead, the sheriff’s office said.

“It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,” Miller said.

The victim’s father-in-law, Terry Rutledge, told The Associated Press that Veronica Rutledge “was a beautiful, young, loving mother.”

“She was not the least bit irresponsible,” Terry Rutledge said. “She was taken much too soon.”

The woman’s husband was not in the store when the shooting happened at about 10:20 a.m. Dec. 30. Miller said the man arrived shortly after the shooting. All the children were taken to a relative’s house.

The shooting occurred in the Wal-Mart in Hayden, Idaho, a town about 40 miles northeast of Spokane. The store closed for the rest of the day.

Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said in a statement the shooting was a “very sad and tragic accident.”

“We are working closely with the local sheriff’s department while they investigate what happened,” Buchanan said.

Idaho National Laboratory senior chemical engineer Vince Maio worked with Rutledge on a research paper about using glass ceramic to store nuclear waste, The Spokesman-Review said.

Maio said he was immediately impressed with her.

“She had a lot of maturity for her age,” he told the newspaper. “Her work was impeccable. She found new ways to do things that we did before and she found ways to do them better.”

“She was a beautiful person,” he added.

There do not appear to be reliable national statistics about the number of accidental fatalities involving children handling guns.

In neighboring Washington state, a 3-year-old boy was seriously injured in November when he accidentally shot himself in the face in a home in Lake Stevens, about 30 miles north of Seattle.

In April, a 2-year-old boy apparently shot and killed his 11-year-old sister while they and their siblings played with a gun inside a Philadelphia home. Authorities said the gun was believed to have been brought into the home by the mother’s boyfriend.

Hayden is a politically conservative town of about 9,000 people just north of Coeur d’Alene, in Idaho’s northern panhandle.

Idaho lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year allowing concealed weapons on the state’s public college and university campuses.

Despite facing opposition from all eight of the state’s university college presidents, lawmakers sided with gun rights advocates who said the law would better uphold the Second Amendment.

Under the law, gun holders are barred from bringing their weapons into dormitories or buildings that hold more than 1,000 people, such as stadiums or concert halls.

Oregon test: soy engineered for heavy pesticide exposure found in infant formula

The Center for Food Safety says genetic testing confirmed the presence of soy genetically engineered by Monsanto for heavy pesticide exposure in infant formula that is being sold in Portland, Oregon. The organization announced the test results on Food Day 2014 and in advance of a vote in Oregon on whether to label genetically engineered foods.

CFS and Dr. Ray Seidler, the first EPA scientist to study genetically engineered crops and former professor at Oregon State University, worked together on carrying out the testing. With recent published studies confirming that genetically engineered soy has significantly higher levels of chemical herbicides than conventionally grown soy, the test findings raise concerns about increasing infant exposure to chemical herbicides.

The testing follows up on a recent nationwide study by Consumer Reports finding genetically engineered ingredients in more than 80 common food products.

“I think most moms purchasing infant formula have no idea they are feeding their baby a product that has been genetically engineered to survive exposure to high levels of chemical pesticides,” Aurora Paulsen with Center for Food Safety’s Portland office said in a statement. “It’s no surprise that Monsanto is the top donor opposing Measure 92 which would give Oregonians the ability to know what foods have been genetically engineered. The presence of these products in infant formula being sold in Oregon really highlights the need for basic labeling.”

Seidler said, “Everything we know from the recent medical literature suggests we should be doing everything possible to reduce infant exposure to chemicals.  Finding soy in infant formula that has been genetically engineered specifically to survive high levels of chemical pesticide spraying is a real concern and takes us in the wrong direction.”

Genetic tests were conducted on three brands of infant formula bought at the Fred Meyer in Portland. Two products that tested positive for genetically engineered soy included Similac Soy Isomil and Enfamil Prosobee Powder Soy Infant Formula. Both products tested positive for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soy that is engineered to tolerate spraying with the herbicide glyphosate, as well as, Liberty Link soy that has been genetically engineered by Bayer Crop Sciences to tolerate spraying with the herbicide glufosinate.

Suit over sperm bank error sets off extraordinary discussion

An unusual lawsuit prompted by an insemination gone wrong has set off an extraordinary discussion touching on sensitive issues of race, motherhood, sexuality and justice, though the debate begins with one basic premise: You should get what you pay for.

Jennifer Cramblett and her wife, Amanda Zinkon, wanted a white baby. They went to the Midwest Sperm Bank near Chicago and chose blond, blue-eyed donor No. 380, who looked like he could have been related to Zinkon. When Cramblett was five months pregnant, they found out that she her donor was No. 330, a black man.

“The couple did not get what they asked for, which was a particular donor. The company made a mistake, and it should have to pay for that,” says Jessica Barrow, an information technology professional in suburban Detroit.

Barrow is black and lesbian, with a white partner. They considered insemination of the white partner before choosing to adopt. When looking at donors, they wanted sperm from a black donor, to create a biracial baby that would have shared some physical characteristics with both of them.

“They’re not saying anything racist, they’re not saying, `We don’t want a black baby,'” Barrow said of Cramblett and Zinkon, who profess their love for their now 2-year-old daughter. “They’re saying, `We asked for something, you gave us something different, and now we have to adjust to that.’”

That “adjustment” is a major justification for Cramblett’s lawsuit. It cites the stress and anxiety of raising a brown girl in predominantly white Uniontown, Ohio, which Cramblett describes as intolerant. Some of her own family members have unconscious racial biases, the lawsuit says.

That leads some to believe that Cramblett is asking to be paid for the difficulties that many black folks — and white parents of adopted black children — deal with without compensation.

“I don’t think I deserve anything more being the white parent of a black child than any parent of a black child does,” says Rory Mullen, who adopted her daughter.

Strangers have asked Mullen why she didn’t adopt a white baby. One remarked in front of her white then-husband that Mullen must have cheated with a black man. Too many white people to count have pawed her daughter’s hair.

“It’s hard, but being a parent is hard,” says Mullen, who lives in Southern California.

“Being a parent is going to throw things at you that you never expected, and we make a decision that we’re going to roll with it, because we love our kids and they deserve it,” she says.

Mullen agrees that a company should be held liable for promising one thing and doing another. But she thinks the fact Cramblett waited more than two years to sue indicates that the experience of raising a black child is her real problem.

“When you say this is too hard, I didn’t deserve this, this is too much for me to handle, then the child internalizes it and it affects their self-esteem,” she says. “It’s my job to pour self-esteem into my daughter, not tear it down.”

From the days of American slavery through the 1960s, white men fathering children with black women was commonplace and tacitly accepted — yet there were few things as scandalous as a white woman with a brown baby.

That history makes Denene Millner, author of the MyBrownBaby.com blog, say that the lawsuit is “rooted in fear … stuck in the muck and mire of racism and the purity of white lineage.”

“She simply cannot fathom dealing with what it means to, in essence, be a Black mom, having to navigate and negotiate a racist world on behalf of a human she bore, in an environment of which she is a product,” Millner wrote.

Darron Smith, co-author of “White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption,” says that the lawsuit reflects America’s unexamined racist attitudes and Cramblett’s angst over having a biracial child.

He notes that due to supply and demand, it costs about half as much to adopt a black child as a white one, and many black boys in foster care are never adopted.

“This lawsuit demonstrates quite nicely the value of skin color,” says Smith, a professor at Wichita State University.

Yet Cramblett’s defenders say she should not be held responsible for being unprepared.

“White people who aren’t affiliated with black people don’t necessarily understand the challenges that black people face in all facets of their life. This couple wasn’t expecting that, and now they have to deal with it,” says Rachel Dube, who owns a youth sports business in New York.

“She didn’t ask for a biracial baby. She was given one, she loves it, she adores it, now she’s facing challenges and admits it. That doesn’t make her a racist,” Dube says.

“You can’t fault her for what she was not exposed to,” she says. “Her only obligation is to love and raise her child in the best environment possible. And if the money will help her do that, then good for her.”

Court dismisses challenge to law allowing Wisconsin to forcibly detain pregnant women

The federal court in Wisconsin has dismissed a petition filed by Alicia Beltran challenging her detention under a provision of the Wisconsin Children’s Code that allows the state to take women into custody from the earliest stages of pregnancy.

Beltran challenged her detention under the Wisconsin law that permitted her arrest, detention and involuntary in-patient medical treatment based upon the unproven charge that she “habitually lacked self-control in the use of alcohol or controlled substances.”

The matter began when Alicia Beltran, a 28-year-old pregnant woman, sought early prenatal care and confided in health care workers about prior use of painkillers and her efforts to end that use on her own. Instead of commending Beltran for her progress, her medical practitioners reported her to the state Department of Human Services and she was arrested on July 18, 2013, by Wisconsin law enforcement officials.

Beltran was forcibly taken into custody when she was 14 weeks pregnant, put into handcuffs and shackles and brought to a court hearing. Although a lawyer had already been appointed to represent her fetus, Beltran had no right to counsel — and therefore had no attorney — at the court appearance which resulted in her long-term detention. Without testimony from any medical expert or without giving Beltran any chance to challenge any allegations against her, a family court referee ordered Beltran to be detained at an inpatient drug treatment program two hours from her home and from her prenatal care provider.

Beltran filed a complaint in federal court, gaining national press attention to her detention. After that, the state allowed her to leave in-patient treatment and, subsequently, the state dropped the petition against Beltran. By that time, however, she had been detained against her wishes far from family for more than 70 days.

It was on the ground that Beltran had eventually been released and the charges against her dropped that the federal court this week dismissed the case as moot. So the court did not rule on the merits of Beltran’s complaint.

However, the court ruling acknowledged that “if Beltran’s allegations are true, what happened to her is extremely disturbing.”

“We are disappointed that the court refused to address the constitutionality of the law, and instead avoided reaching a decision about a statute that permits the State to rip pregnant women from their homes, endangering them and their future children.” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women and a member of Beltran’s legal team.

She added that “the law does not even give pregnant women the right to counsel at the initial stages of the proceedings against them and most of the women who are detained while pregnant will have difficulty finding lawyers able to bring constitutional claims.”

The court suggested, however, that another civil rights action, potentially representing a class of women brought within the ambit of the law, might not present the same mootness issues. Beltran is currently considering her legal options in the wake of the decision, according to a news release.

Florida hospital threatens to force pregnant patient to undergo cesarean surgery

A Florida hospital has threatened to force a pregnant patient to undergo cesarean surgery against her will and to report her to child welfare authorities for exercising her right to medical decision-making.

The threat was made in a letter from the chief financial officer of Bayfront Health in Port Charlotte to Jennifer Goodall, a Cape Coral, Florida, mother of three who at the time was nearly 39 weeks pregnant.

The letter informed her that because she decided to have a trial of labor before agreeing to cesarean surgery, her prenatal care providers intended to report her to the state Department of Children and Family Services, seek a court order for the surgery and to perform cesarean surgery on her “with or without (her) consent” if she came to the hospital.

Goodall had three previous cesarean surgeries and based on that experience and careful informed consideration, seeks to avoid additional surgery if possible and to allow labor to proceed in hopes of having a vaginal birth after cesarean.

According to medical research, both VBAC and repeat cesarean surgery carry risks. The risk of uterine rupture increases for women who labor after having had previous cesarean surgeries, but the risks associated with another surgery also increase.

In fact, undergoing a cesarean surgery for the fourth time carries a 1 in 8 chance of major complications and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that 60-80 percent of women who attempt VBAC are successful.

“I would definitely consent to surgery if there were any indication during labor that it is necessary,” Goodall said. “I am trying to make the decision that will be safest for both me and my baby, and give me the greatest chance at being able to heal quickly after my child is born so I can care for my newborn and my three other children.”

National Advocates for Pregnant Women, with Florida attorney Patricia E. Kahn, filed a complaint on behalf of Goodall in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order preventing the hospital from carrying out its threats.

U.S. District Judge John E. Steele denied the request, stating, in part, that Goodall has no “right to compel a physician or medical facility to perform a medical procedure in the manner she wishes against their best medical judgment.”

Farah Diaz-Tello, staff attorney for NAPW, expressed disappointment in the ruling: “The process of labor and delivery isn’t a procedure; our client is the one trying to avoid a compelled medical procedure. Deciding whether and when to consent to surgery is a constitutionally protected right.”

Diaz-Tello said that every appellate court to rule on this issue on a full record has held that pregnant women retain their constitutional rights, including rights to medical decision-making and bodily-integrity.

“No woman should fear that because she’s pregnant, she can be threatened, coerced, or deprived of her constitutional rights,” the attorney said.

According to declarations of medical experts filed with the lawsuit, the hospital’s actions violate medical ethics. Mary Faith Marshall, Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics & Humanities at the University of Virginia School of Medicine called the hospital’s actions “troubling.”

Diaz-Tello acknowledged the hospital’s concerns about malpractice liability, but noted that there is no legal or ethical authority that supports managing liability concerns by forcibly performing unwanted surgery.

Here’s Jennifer Goodall’s complete statement, released on July 25:

My decision to allow labor to proceed before consenting to a surgical intervention is based on years of research, careful consideration of the risks to me and my baby, and my family’s needs. All I want is to be able to go to the hospital when I’m in labor and have my medical decisions respected – and my decision is to proceed with a trial of labor and not have cesarean surgery unless some medical complication arises that makes cesarean surgery necessary for my or my baby’s health. Instead of respecting my wishes like they would for any other patient, my health care providers have made me fear for my safety and custody of my children. The people who are supposed to be caring for me and my baby have put me into an even more dangerous situation. I know I’m not the only one to go through this; I’m speaking out because pregnant women deserve better.

A relapse for a 4-year-old girl thought to be free of HIV

A Mississippi girl born with the AIDS virus and in remission for more than two years despite stopping treatment now shows signs that she still harbors HIV — and therefore is not cured. The news is a setback to hopes that very early treatment with powerful HIV drugs might reverse an infection that has seemed permanent once it takes hold.

The girl is now nearly 4. As recently as March, doctors had said that she seemed free of HIV though she was not being treated with AIDS drugs. That was a medical first.

But late last week, doctors said they were surprised to find the virus in her blood, and there were signs that it was harming her immune system. She is now back on treatment and is responding well, they said.

The news is “obviously disappointing” and will affect a federal study that had been about to start testing early, aggressive treatment in such cases, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Doctors had been considering stopping treatment if no signs of infection could be detected after two years.

“We’re going to take a good hard look at the study and see if it needs any modifications,” either in terms of length of treatment or because of ethical concerns over raising false hopes about an approach that now has suffered a setback, Fauci said. At a minimum, consent forms to join the study must be revised, he said.

Most HIV-infected moms in the U.S. get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies. The Mississippi baby’s mom received no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labor. Because of the baby’s great risk of infection, doctors started her on unusually powerful treatment 30 hours after birth, even before tests could determine whether she was indeed infected.

The girl was treated until she was 18 months old, when doctors lost contact with her. Ten months later when she returned, they could find no sign of infection even though the mom had stopped giving her AIDS medicines.

Tests repeatedly showed no detectable HIV until this month, when copies of the virus were measured in her blood. Doctors say they don’t know why the virus rebounded when it did, and said it raises profound questions about what they know about HIV’s hideouts in the body.

“We are still very much in the early discovery phase of trying to achieve a sustained virological remission and perhaps even a cure. There is much, much more to learn and we remain committed to doing so,” Fauci said.

The girl’s experience still suggests that early, aggressive treatment can limit the size of the reservoir of dormant virus in the body and help control infection, said one specialist involved in the case, Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

“What we’ve learned from this case is really quite amazing,” said Jeffrey Safrit, research chief at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. “They were able to suppress virus for a very long time without therapy. We need to take the positive aspects of this case and learn from them to move forward” with the federal study, he said.

In March, doctors revealed that a second baby born with HIV may have had her infection put into remission by very early treatment — in this case, four hours after her birth in suburban Los Angeles in April 2013. Nearly a year later, very sophisticated tests at multiple times suggested she had completely cleared the virus, but she remains on treatment so there is no way to know for sure.

Only one other person is thought to have been cured of HIV infection — a San Francisco man who had a bone marrow transplant in 2007 from a donor with natural resistance to HIV. He showed no sign of infection more than five years later.

Man does C-section on dead porcupine, saves baby

A Maine man in search of a valuable mineral cut open a dead porcupine on the side of the road and unexpectedly pulled out its baby.

Jared Buzzell, of Lisbon, Maine, says he was searching for wild mushrooms when he saw a porcupine get hit by a car in Minot. Buzzell says he’d heard that a valuable mineral deposit used in Chinese medicine formed in the stomachs of porcupines.

He then cut open the dead porcupine to search for the mineral and instead found the baby.

He tells WMTW-TV he cut the umbilical cord and thought the baby porcupine was dead until he started massaging it and it began breathing.

Buzzell is caring for the baby at home and plans to give it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

— AP

Arkansas anti-abortion law overturned

A federal judge has struck down Arkansas’ attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last year had stopped enforcement of the law while she reviewed it, and now she has declared that it was unconstitutional. She cited previous court decisions that said abortions shouldn’t be restricted until after a fetus reaches viability, which is typically at 22 to 24 weeks.

“The state presents no evidence that a fetus can live outside the mother’s womb at twelve weeks,” the judge wrote.

By adopting a ban based on a fetal heartbeat, and not the ability to survive, the Arkansas Legislature had adopted the nation’s toughest abortion law last March. Two weeks later, North Dakota lawmakers passed a bill restricting abortions at six weeks – or before some women would know they’re pregnant. That law is on hold.

In her decision, Wright said only a doctor could determine viability.

“The Supreme Court has … stressed that it is not the proper function of the legislature or the courts to place viability at a specific point in the gestation period,” Wright wrote.

Wright left in place a portion of the law that requires doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat and to notify the pregnant woman if one is present.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, had vetoed the bill, citing the viability standard. But Republicans, controlling the Statehouse for the first time since Reconstruction, overrode him with a simple majority vote.

“The ruling is what the governor predicted in his veto letter last year,” Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said.

The state attorney general’s office said it was reviewing possible next steps. “Today’s decision was not a surprise,” spokesman Aaron Sadler said.

Bettina Brownstein, who represented two doctors who perform abortions at a Little Rock clinic, said the 12-week ban was “demeaning to women.”

“The law never should have been passed in the first place, it’s so unquestionably unconstitutional,” she said. She said it was unlikely that Drs. Louis Jerry Edwards and Tom Tvedten would appeal the portion of the law requiring them to notify patients if a heartbeat is detected.

“Practically, in my opinion, it has very little effect. It’s duplicative of what doctors who perform abortions in Arkansas already have to do,” she said.

State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, who sponsored the fetal heartbeat bill, said he was encouraged that that portion of the measure was upheld.

“Now, anyone who presents for abortion in our state, they’re going to be given an opportunity to know if there’s a living heartbeat in their womb, and that is a win for the pro-life movement,” Rapert said. “When people have to face the reality that there’s a living heartbeat in their womb, that will make them rethink about taking the life away from their baby.”

The 12-week ban had included exemptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and highly lethal fetal disorders. Legislators last year also passed a separate ban at 20 weeks, based on the disputed claim that fetuses can feel pain at that point.