New York Mom Is Suing Doctors For The Unwanted C-Section That Saved Her Son’s Life

c section baby just deliveredA woman in New York is suing two doctors and Staten Island University Hospital for health issues she endured after she claims they refused to allow her to have a VBAC birth, instead forcing her to undergo an unwanted c-section. Which seems ironic to me, seeing as the reason c-sections in general are so common is due to he frequent lawsuits parents bring up when their children are injured during natural births.  Now, typically I am all for a woman’s right to decide what will and won’t be done to her body, but seeing as she had been trying, unsuccessfully, to give birth for many hours, I think the doctors made the right decision.

According to The New York Times, the mother, Rinat Dray had experienced some health issues after delivering two previous children via c-section, which led to her desire for a natural birth for her third child. According to The New York Times, Dray was allowed to labor for “several hours,” before her doctors made their fateful decision:

“The doctor told her the baby would be in peril and her uterus would rupture if she did not; he told her that she would be committing the equivalent of child abuse and that her baby would be taken away from her, she said in an interview this week.

After several hours of trying to deliver vaginally and arguing with the doctors, Mrs. Dray was wheeled to an operating room, where her baby was delivered surgically.”

To be clear, this isn’t a case of a doctor making a last minute decision without the ability to get consent. They knew all along that Dray did NOT want a c-section, and she even argued with them during her hours-long labor. The hospital record is clear:

“The hospital record leaves little question that the operation was conducted against her will: ”I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section,” a handwritten note signed by Dr. James J. Ducey, the director of maternal and fetal medicine, says, adding that her doctor and the hospital’s lawyer had agreed.”

Thankfully Dray’s experienced a successful birth and her baby is just fine, but according to court records Dray’s bladder was punctured during the forced c-section, which is why she is seeking unspecified damages.

Personally, I think Dray is well within her rights to sue for damages related to her injury. Cesarean sections are a common surgical procedure, and while internal injury during the procedure is somewhat common (reportedly two in every 100 c-sections), I think a serious injury like this is more than enough reason to claim malpractice. But I also think the c-section was necessary.

I understand the concerns some folks have about choice. Even The New York Times touches on this subject in their recent piece on the case:

“But more broadly, her case is part of a debate over the use of cesarean sections. It also raises issues about the rights of pregnant women to control their own bodies, even if that might compromise the life of a fetus.”

There are plenty of people who think that the right to refuse is absolute, but I’m not so sure. I think it’s important to point out that obvious fact that this was a procedure being performed well after the point of viability. Unlike abortion, where the procedure is almost always performed before viability, the rights of the child should be considered when considering a VBAC or c-section birth. I think many women forget (or choose to ignore) that VBACs are dangerous and children do die, which is exactly what Dray’s doctors were worried about when they chose to override her wishes and perform the procedure.

I think it’s important to note that the hospital where Dray gave birth has an excellent record when it comes to VBACs and natural birth. According to The New York Times:

“A spokesman for the hospital, Christian Preston, said Friday that he could not comment on the case because of the litigation and privacy concerns. But he defended the hospital’s record, saying it had a 22-percent C-section rate compared with a state average of 34 percent. Its 2012 rate of ”vaginal birth after C-section” was almost 29 percent, much higher than the state average of 11 percent, he said.”

This leads me to believe that this wasn’t a case of a careless doctor or doctors glibly choosing to ignore a pregnant woman’s wishes, but rather a team of physicians who made a tough choice during a difficult situation. Also, if I remember correctly, most hospitals have patients sign paperwork which ultimately gives their doctors the right to make certain decisions, and this very well may be the case here. I’m not saying that doctors should always have more of a say than their patients. What I am saying is that nowadays Dray has three healthy children, and this simply might not be the case if she had gotten her way. Perhaps the end does occasionally justify the means.

(Photo: Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock)

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