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PHILADELPHIA — A case that might dramatically expand parental rights has been appealed to one of the highest courts in the land.
If the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of Jodi and Scott Ferris, it might restrict the power of social workers and medical professionals to take children and make decisions for families.
A lower court ruled against the couple earlier this year without giving them the trial their Home School Legal Defense Association attorneys had requested. In October, the case was appealed to the Third Circuit.
In 2010, a social worker and police officers seized Jodi Ferris’ newborn baby at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., just hours after birth, allegedly because the mom refused to let the baby get a vaccination and because she preferred natural childbirth over hospital delivery.
The workers reportedly kept the baby girl for around 48 hours and only let Ferris see the infant every few hours. The baby was eventually returned to Ferris and her husband, Scott, but only after a court order.
“That afternoon a social worker and two police officers came to the hospital and took our baby and kicked us out of the hospital,” Ferris said in an HSLDA podcast.
Ferris thinks the infant was taken from her because she refused to let the child be vaccinated for Hepatitis B, according to The Minot Daily News. The baby was born in an ambulance in the medical center parking lot after Ferris was rushed there in premature labor. Ferris had wanted to give birth at home but couldn’t because her midwife could not arrive in time.
Jodi also said she thinks her belief in alternative medical care and natural child birth caused staff to take action against her.
“I think the hospital staff took our wanting information as a challenge to their authority,” Jodi Ferris said. “One nurse told us that she took our questions as a personal attack against her qualifications as a nurse.
“The hospital’s attitude was we’re the experts so just do what we tell you. It bothers me that the doctors and the hospital were offended by our questions and used the so-called emergency removal to override our decisions just because they disagreed with us.”
The HSDLA filed a civil rights complaint against doctors at the medical center and a social worker in federal court in March 2012, claiming that the couple’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated.
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