Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) claims that pregnant patients do not have the right to refuse medical treatment and that “protecting a viable fetus warrants forcing medical intervention to a pregnant mother despite her refusal to consent.”
● Forced interventions on patients, including pregnant patients, violate numerous rights protected by the Constitution, statutes, the common law of every state in the U.S. and international human rights principles. When seeking medical care, people deserve to have all of their rights respected. These rights include the right to medical decision making, bodily integrity and informed consent and they belong to everyone including pregnant patients.
Northwell Health’s SIUH relies on anti-abortion ideology, insisting that being required to follow the law and respect pregnant patient’s decision making could “deprive . . . viable, unborn fetuses of their right to live.” This is the argument they are using in court to justify forced surgery on Rinat Dray and in defense of their discriminatory “Managing Maternal Refusals"policy. Rinat Dray was forced to undergo cesarean surgery against her will and without a court order. Rinat’s doctor had written in her medical record, “the woman has decisional capacity. I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section.” Cesarean surgery is recognized to have significant risks and to be unnecessary in many cases. In addition to forcing Rinat to undergo major surgery requiring a long recovery, the doctors also punctured her bladder.
● Forced interventions on patients, including pregnant patients, violates medical ethics. That is why leading medical organizations including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists specifically instruct health care providers to respect pregnant patients’ decisions. Rinat suffers ongoing trauma from experiencing obstetric violence and being denied her fundamental rights. Yet, she is fighting back on behalf of herself and all other pregnant patients. Rinat has filed an action against the physicians and SIUH. In response, Northwell’s SIUH is vigorously defending their policy to take control of pregnant patients and force them to have medical procedures against their will.
Rinat Dray is not alone. Childbirth is one of the most common human experiences. Yet as the photo campaign Breaking The Silence documents, many pregnant patients experience coercion and mistreatment at the hands of their healthcare providers.
Hospitals should not provide pregnant patients with misleading information. For example, Rinat had carefully chosen her doctors and hospital because of the information they provided. They led her to believe that they would respect her decision to have a vaginal birth after cesareans (VBAC) and support her in a trial of labor. Significantly, at the same time Northwell’s SIUH is defending its forced surgery that prevented Rinat from continuing her trial of labor and having a VBAC, their SIUH’s website states, “[w]e also care for mothers who wish to deliver vaginally after having had a previous cesarean delivery (VBAC)”. Beware, “care” should not include forced surgery and denial of a patient's civil and human rights.
Sign our petition calling on Northwell Health to ensure that all of its facilities including Staten Island University Hospital respect and protect the rights of all their patients.
I demand that Northwell Health:
1. Eliminate the policies and practices that authorize forced or coerced medical interventions in your facilities on pregnant patients, at any stage of pregnancy including labor and delivery.
2. Immediately rescind all “Managing Maternal Refusal” and similar policies in Northwell’s hospital system and make any new policies addressing “maternal refusal” public.
3. Acknowledge the harms done to Rinat Dray and help her find resolution.
4. Ensure that all Northwell doctors and hospital personnel are trained in their ethical duties to honor the decisions of pregnant patients at all stages of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and to uphold patient rights including the right to refuse medical interventions.
5. Establish policies to affirm that women, including pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy, are fully and equally protected in Northwell facilities by the U.S. Constitution, International Human Rights principles, the New York State Patients’ Bill of Rights, and all established common law principles regarding patient consent, privacy and confidentiality