Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
Over the past week, I have been watching video after video, and reading article after article on medical kidnapping. A phenomenon that up until a week ago I knew very little about. Like most people the hospital and police have always been a source of comfort in life’s chaos. Something to turn to when you are not sure what to do. But what happens when that protection, guidance and healing turns against you? Where else do you turn? This is the question that comes to mind when we talk about medical kidnapping. A phenomenon that has been happing for some time in the US and possibly in other parts of the world. But what is medical kidnapping?
Medical kidnapping definition
Medical kidnapping is defined as “the state taking away children from their parents and putting them into state custody and the foster care system, simply because the parents did not agree with a doctor regarding their prescribed medical treatment for the family.”. Or in some cases when children are taken away from their parents when health care providers sense impropriety with no actual evidence.
Example of medical kidnapping
The idea of medical kidnapping first made it into my purview when I saw a story about it on Instagram. In the story, a woman of color shares how her child was taken away from her after a hospital visit after the child showed signs of dehydration. After expressing the concerns with her pediatrician abut her child refusing foods and liquids after she had to stop breastfeeding. She was worried that her child was not getting enough nutrients or liquids in the summer heat. After her doctor told her to keep trying and call the following week.
The woman decided to go get another opinion at her local hospital. Especially as her child was showing signs of dehydration. Whilst there, a group of nurses reported her to police who arrived on the scene and took her child away. Even after she showed proof that she had tried to get help AND the fact that she was the one who had brought her child in. Something a neglagent mother would not do. To this day she is fighting the state for custody of her own child as soon the child will be put into forster care, something any mother would not want for their child.
Who does this happen to?
Whilst medical kidnapping can happen to anyone. The current trend is that it happens to more non-white families than white families. This is even more true in states in the United States where non-whites are a minority.
How to protect yourself from medical kidnapping.
Whilst there is no right answer. The first step would be to keep track of all medical appointments and show that you actually do care for your child. It is also vital to have more than one person present at hospital visits so you have someone to corroborate your story. Beyond that there is not much to be said except that I hope, as a mother myself that this would not happen to any mother, no matter their race, age or creed.