The next thing you know, the police and South Carolina Child Protective Services (CPS) are involved, claiming they have the right to remove your child from your custody to administer this treatment anyway. Your child has been effectively kidnapped and there is nothing you can do about it.
Sadly, this happens to families every day. Hospitals or other medical facilities can abuse their power and innocent children can get caught in the middle. Typically, a medical kidnapping incident occurs when parents (or one parent) disagrees with doctors about a child's diagnosis or recommended course of treatment. Whenever CPS is involved, it is crucial to tread carefully, and with the help of an experienced attorney.
What is medical kidnapping in South Carolina?
Medical kidnapping occurs when a medical professional believes that you have caused your child harm, and calls CPS to remove the child from your custody. This is often the result of the doctor (or nurse, or administrator) thinking you are abusing or neglecting your child. It can also happen if you refuse certain medical treatments, such as a medication with dangerous side effects (and you think the risk is unacceptable).
If doctors and other medical professionals believe that a parent or parents are withholding lifesaving treatments from a child, and that this endangers the child's well-being, they have a legal right to call CPS or law enforcement to remove the child from your custody.
The case of little Noah
Back in May of 2019, the Washington Post reported on a case where two parents removed their three-year-old son from chemo treatment for his leukemia, claiming he no longer needed it after two rounds. However, a few days later, police put out a bulletin for Noah, saying he was “missing” and “endangered” after his parents failed to bring him to a scheduled treatment appointment.
Noah was taken from his parents and given medical treatment, according to the Post, while his parents were investigated for neglect and forced to go to court for a custody hearing. Supporters of the couple called the incident medical kidnapping. Said Noah's mother, Taylor Bland-Ball, “We're not trying to refuse any kind of treatment. They think we're refusing treatment all around, putting him in danger, trying to kill him. But not at all. We're trying to save him.”
“We want him to receive a treatment that has less side effects, because chemotherapy is so brutal on a body, even an adult body, so think of what it's doing to a little person who's only 30 pounds,” she added.
Later in September of that year, per NBC News, Noah was placed in the custody of his grandparents. Although, according to the article, his parents voluntarily agreed to continue chemotherapy treatment, circuit court judge Thomas Palermo said, “he didn't find the couple's promise to continue that treatment without fleeing the state credible, stating, “Without law enforcement intervention, Noah would still be deprived of necessary medical care.”
What are my rights against medical kidnapping?
As a parent or guardian, you have the right to care for and make health decisions on behalf of your child until they turn 18 years old. You have the right to accept or reject medical opinions, diagnoses, and treatment, including seeking a second opinion and ensuring you are completely informed about any procedure.
You also have the right to copies of all your child's medical records and reports, as well as researching the qualifications of any specialists brought in to treat your child's condition. Further, if you do not feel comfortable with anything going on regarding your child's treatment, you have the right to speak up and to say no. Nobody should suffer attacks to their reputation or to their family unit when they are only trying to look out for the best interest and welfare of their child.
Why would the authorities intervene in my child's medical treatment?
Authorities such as medical professionals or law enforcement may intervene in your child's care if they believe your actions are abusive, neglectful, or endangering your child. Examples include:
· Delaying taking your child to the doctor or ER
· Failing to give your child their prescribed medications
· Failure or refusal to follow agreed-upon doctor's orders or follow-up
As family law attorneys, we understand that you have the right to make crucial decisions about your child's medical care, and that you know his or her needs better than anyone. If you and your co-parent are in disagreement on how to proceed with your child's medical treatment, consider involving an attorney or mediator in your decision-making process. Our Fort Mill and Rock Hill lawyers can help.
What can I do if South Carolina CPS takes my child?
Parents have the right to a hearing or appeal if their child is removed from their care due to allegations of medical neglect. They have the right to introduce evidence and opinions from other healthcare providers and why their professional input has value.
Finally, if you are facing criminal charges after your child was a victim of medical kidnapping, you need legal help and you need it now. Authorities will exert medical control over your child as soon as they can after taking them out of your custody.
Call the experienced attorneys at Holland Law, LLC for aggressive representation. To schedule a consultation in either our Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in our Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue, please call 803-219-2630 or reach out on our Contact page. Our team serves clients in the York, Lancaster, and Chester County communities.