Every parent’s nightmare is their child falling seriously ill. But imagine this bad dream getting even worse. You take your child to the hospital or urgent care for medical help and the recommended course of treatment has significant side effects – side effects that you believe will have harmful and permanent effects on the well-being of your child. As a parent and guardian, you make the decision to refuse treatment and take your child elsewhere, as is your right.
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.
The case of little Noah
Back in 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.
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.
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 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 contact us online. Our team serves clients in the York, Lancaster, and Chester County communities.
Tom Holland previously served as the General Counsel for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the City Solicitor for the City of Lancaster, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Sixth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is a single father, and through his own divorce gained valuable insight he now uses to provide Fort Mill and Rock Hill, SC families with the best representation. Learn more about Tom Holland.