Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Is Refusal to Consent to C-Section Evidence of Child Abuse?
Volokh Conspiracy (7/16): Refusal to Consent to Caesarean Section as Neglect of the Child?
From today's very interesting decision in New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. V.M. (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.):
Defendants V.M. [the mother] and B.G. [the father] appeal from the judgment ... which found that they abused and neglected their child, J.M.G. As a result of these findings, J.M.G. was placed in the custody and care of plaintiff Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). At a permanency hearing the judge approved DYFS's plan for termination of parental rights....
We agree that the judge's findings as to V.M. were supported by the evidence adduced at the hearing, but ... we disagree as to his findings as they relate to B.G.... [On the record before us, we do not think that] whether V.M.'s refusal to consent to a cesarean section (c-section) can, as a matter of law, be considered an element of abuse and neglect ... need be decided.
[T]he independent evidence presented, irrespective of the evidence concerning V.M.'s resistance to the c-section, amply supported the judge's ultimate finding as to V.M., and we affirm as to her. As to B.G., we reverse for the reasons set forth in the concurring opinion.