A class-action lawsuit was filed last week in the Northern District of Illinois against the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), its agents, and several doctors and nurses in area hospitals, including Silver Cross, University of Chicago Medical Center, and Christ Hospital, on behalf of families whose babies were seized because parents exercised informed consent and refused vaccines or antibiotic eye ointment at birth.
In Illinois, these procedures are not mandatory and it is completely lawful to refuse what is considered prophylactic treatment. Illinois has both a religious and philosophical exemption for refusing medical procedures for your child that are not “life-saving” or an “emergency.” This would include the vitamin K shot given at birth as a guard against bleeding and erythromycin eye ointment. Vaccines are also considered prophylactic care and are not mandated by Illinois law.
Nonetheless, several parents were investigated, mocked for their religious beliefs, or had their children seized at birth by DCFS, who “used the power given to them as State officials and/or employees and through their authorities and investigative powers to cause the Plaintiffs to be threatened and coerced into accepting unwanted and unnecessary medical procedures,” according to the lawsuit.
Named in the suit as a defendant is child abuse pediatrician Dr. Jill Glick. The industry of “child abuse pediatricians” is controversial. These are often the doctors, hired and paid by child protective agencies, who aggressively diagnose accidental injuries as abuse and often accuse mothers of Munchausen syndrome by proxy or narcissistic personality disorder from afar, sometimes without having treated the mother, in order to allow DCFS or other CPS agencies to remove their children. These cases often result in permanent removal and sometimes jail for the parents.
Dr. Glick is accused in the suit of orchestrating an unconstitutional and illegal policy to coerce and threaten parents with the removal of children, “[conspiring] with DCFS officials… to implement a DCFS policy that all of them knew was illegal, and [making] sure that Illinois pediatricians and hospitals carried out this policy using coercive threats… designed to enforce compliance with their desires that no parent be allowed to refuse the prophylactic medical procedures at issue in this case.”
In fact, emails were discovered through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that back up this claim. Dr. Glick sent an email on August 10, 2017, indicating that parents must be forced to comply with recommended prophylactic procedures, not just for the good of the patients themselves but because they needed to send a “very clear message” to “educated” parents who “do not see the medical community as the expert.” The child abuse pediatrician lamented that “there is no venue for the hospital to force this upon the family” against their will.
Glick further went on to express her support for using coercion in a letter to the Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics saying that refusing vitamin K is a “poor choice” that can be overcome “through the impact of child welfare interventions,” which she concluded “can be a very powerful incentive for parents not to put their child at risk.”
But no pharmaceutical product is without risk, including vitamin K, the hepatitis B vaccine, and even eye ointment. In fact, one of the listed dangers of vitamin K is death.
Most of the time, a baby is not at risk of excessive bleeding unless there is some kind of birth trauma. Regardless of these risks, parents are legally entitled to make medical decisions for their children. The babies in the lawsuit were all born healthy and not at risk. All of their pediatricians agreed that vitamin K and eye ointment could be refused under the law. But the pediatricians were overruled by overzealous hospital staff who called DCFS, resulting in investigations, home invasions without warrants, and extreme stress for the parents.
The evidence in this lawsuit of wrongdoing by DCFS and doctors like Jill Glick, among others, is overwhelming and includes emails obtained through FOIA requests showing that DCFS knew its policy of investigating parents for refusing prophylactic procedures was illegal. In fact, in July of 2018, DCFS rescinded their official policy, Rule 300, that resulted in the investigations because it went against state law saying, “We have issued an Action Transmittal immediately revoking the Department’s policy of using a parent’s failure to approve of either treatment as a basis for an allegation of medical neglect.” This did not stop DCFS, however, from seizing babies and investigating the plaintiffs under bogus “medical neglect” charges using the rescinded rule.
The lawsuit alleges that all of the parents in the case had their privacy invaded and their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights violated. The Chicago Tribune reported:
James Holderman III son of a former chief judge at the federal courthouse in Chicago, and his wife, Courtney, are lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The Holdermans contend they were subjected to a DCFS investigation in May 2018 because they declined the vitamin K shot and other optional procedures — a blood screening and eye ointment — after the birth of their second child at a west suburban hospital that is not part of the lawsuit.
Their child was not seized but they were investigated by DCFS for weeks. “The moment they started investigating me, I knew that they were in the wrong, and I knew that the doctor was in the wrong,” Holderman told the Tribune. “I did not know that this was widespread… We thought it was just a one-off.”
Holderman started digging and found other parents who went through the same thing. One mother, Danielle Anderson, was forced to call the Chicago Police to her hospital bed and plead with them to stop University of Chicago doctors from seizing her child illegally. According to the lawsuit, “Danielle told the police officers that Defendant Dr. Lysouvakon was threatening to take away Baby G from her, and that she had the right to refuse a Vitamin K shot for her daughter.” After the police looked at the law Anderson provided and heard both sides, they told the doctor to stop harassing the new mother and offered her an escort out of the hospital. Even still, she was investigated by DCFS for “medical neglect.”
You can read the lawsuit in its entirety below. Anyone interested in the terrifying power that child welfare agencies and now doctors have over parents, despite the law, should read the whole thing. It’s riveting.