Last week, Pregnancy Justice filed an amicus brief (“friend of the court”) in support of Rinat Dray in her ongoing fight for justice following unconsented and forced cesarean surgery at Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH).
Since 1914, New York State Courts have recognized that “Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body.”
Northwell Health’s SIUH continues to publicly declare that this well-established rule of medical ethics and law does not apply to its pregnant patients.
When Rinat Dray refused cesarean surgery, SIUH treated her differently from their other patients and declared that they need not have her consent to cut her open. While holding themselves out as an institution that respects patient rights and one that specifically assures the public that they “care for mothers who wish to deliver vaginally after having had a previous cesarean delivery (VBAC),” they overrode Ms. Dray’s decision to have a VBAC and her refusal of cesarean surgery and in the process caused damage to her bladder and lasting trauma.
Rinat Dray chose her doctors and SIUH because she believed they respected patient rights. Having delivered two babies by cesarean surgeries that seemed medically unnecessary and very hard to recover from, Rinat wanted support for a vaginal birth after cesarean surgery. Northwell’s SIUH never disclosed that they had an official “Managing Maternal Refusals of Treatment Beneficial for the Fetus” policy authorizing medical interventions, including major surgery, on pregnant patients without their consent and without court order.
In response to her efforts to get justice for the forced, traumatizing, and damaging surgery, Northwell’s SIUH has argued that pregnant patients are not protected by NY State’s Patient Bill of Rights requiring informed consent for surgery. And they are arguing that having to respect pregnant patients’ decision-making would deprive “viable, unborn fetuses of their right to live.”
Pregnancy Justice’s amicus brief addresses the health rights and humanity of pregnant people that were violated by SIUH and why New York Courts must recognize and consider numerous legal claims raised by Ms. Dray in the course of her litigation.
In addition to Pregnancy Justice’s amicus brief, VBAC Facts and Evidence Based Birth,
the Birth Rights Bar Association (BRBA) and Birth Place Lab, NYCLU, and If/When/How:Lawyering for Reproductive Justice also filed amicus in support of Ms. Dray and justice for all pregnant people.