Doctors need to realize that their patients are beginning to fear and avoid them. That is not good for business and may put people in danger.
Present law requires a doctor to report to DCFS any injury that “could have” happened by abuse, and any case in which he feels you are not giving your child proper medical treatment. Since the Parker Jensen case, Utah Families Assn. has received calls from parents who are afraid to take their children to doctors, and understandable so.
One mother worried because her child had a broken bone and she didn’t know how it happened. Without witnesses, she was indeed in a risky situation. Another father was terrified over his newborn’s slow weight gain. They had hesitated to go to the doctor for fear of being accused of neglect, now they feared they had waited too long and might actually be neglectful.
Which risk is greater, your baby’s physical ailment or injury or the chance that he will be taken into State custody? So long as citizens sense that the risk of State involvement is great — and right now it is — they will live in fear.
When you go to a doctor and he says “I am required to report this and you may get a call from DCFS, but don’t worry about it,” do worry about it.
A baby fell off the bed. The mother and the grandmother were right there and tried to catch him. He had an injury, so they took him to the doctor. The doctor said he had to report any injury that “could have been” from abuse — though he knew full well that this injury didn’t happen that way. He told the mother not to worry, she might just get a phone call. A few days later a case worker, with several policemen backing her up, knocked on the door. “Get your baby’s things together,” she said, and she took the baby.
One mother noticed a small lump on her nine-month-old baby’s chest. The baby didn’t appear to be in any discomfort, but she took him to the doctor just for her own peace of mind. The doctor discovered a broken rib and sent her to Primary Children’s. There several more broken bones were discovered. The baby and his sister were quickly taken into state custody and placed in a shelter.
Does this baby have brittle bones? Has his dad played too roughly with him? Or has he been abused? If he’s been abused, who did it? How does separating the baby from his mother, who is obviously not a suspect, help the baby? Why not ask the father to leave for a few days and ask the mother to find a different babysitter while an investigation is quickly conducted? (If the mother were a suspect, she and the child could be put under supervision either in the home or at some other location.) But, no, what will likely happen is that the baby will be put in foster care for months while the case drags on.
Utah Governor Olene Walker tells us that “education is in my DNA.” That’s cute (and scary if you are a taxpayer), but surely the mother/baby bond, and the father/baby bond, begin in the womb and are permanently locked into the DNA. To take away a baby whose life is no in immediate danger fis barbaric.
The Utah Legislature needs to rewrite the reporting laws so that so that children are not taken without warrants and to insure that warrants are not issued without true exigent circumstances.
It would be in the best interest of all children if the medical profession would insist that the Legislature relieve them of the burden of snitching. They should be free to report those cases which they feel strongly are abuse and handle the rest in their best judgment.
Medical doctors and Attorneys General need to recognize that parents have a God-given, self-evident, Constitutionally protected right to seek alternatives to drug and surgery treatment methods. The doctor that assured the court system that Parker Jensen would be dead in two weeks was wrong. The State should not put such faith in the arm of flesh. Since mistakes will be made, let them be made by parents.
Parents still have plenty to fear.
If you, as a parent, feel uncomfortable about an appointment with a doctor — and maybe even if you don’t — you might want to take another adult along and tape record the visit. If an injury is involved, a video camera might be a good idea. You might record at home first, showing how the accident happened, letting the child tell you what happened, putting witnesses on record, etc. Remember that the child protection industry is a big business and right now it is out of control in Utah. Until the problems are fixed, parents need to think evidence, evidence, evidence.
Note: Be careful in the selection of your doctor and your dentist and read the first-visit paperwork carefully. You may be asked to give the doctor or dentist permission to do whatever he chooses to do. In another state, dentists were encouraged by the state to lay out a dental plan for each child in their care and then let DCFS know if the parent did not follow that plan. Can you smell the money trail here?
A man in a neighboring state called to tell us that he had taken his elderly father to the doctor (possibly the emergency room) because the father didn’t feel well. The doctor said there was nothing wrong with him but insisted on running some tests anyway. Over the objections of both the patient and his son, the doctor forced the man to submit to $5,000 worth of tests before he was allowed to leave the facility. Yes, the man had insurance. Can you smell the money trail here?