The angry parents of a newborn have sparked protests against Summerlin Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, by revealing that their baby was kept at the hospital against their will after a nurse contacted social services for what they describe as an “unjustified reason.”
The “unjustified reason” was that Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers wanted to take baby Lilia home and treat her jaundice “the natural way,” according to her mother. Whenever hospital staff hears a parent say that the family wants to eschew hospital treatment of a child’s serious health problem “the natural way’—or, for that matter, “the supernatural way”, as in “we’re going to put it in God’s hands,” a child’s life is in danger. This is the time for a hospital to stop thinking about legal issues (“Make sure they sign a waiver and consent form!”) or public controversy, and to think about the endangered welfare of the child.
Summerlin’s staff did the responsible, caring and right thing, not that they are getting much credit for it. News reports have been critical of the unidentified nurse who called social services when Lilia’s mother rejected the hospital’s recommendation that it keep the baby over-night.
“It took one nurse to make one horrible decision and a domino effect to happen like that,” said Lincoln Rogers. “It’s just been so unfortunate.”
In truth, it was Summerlin Hospital that kept the Rogers from making a horrible decision. The scenario was reminiscent of another recent case where a hospital intervened to stop a parent’ s “natural treatment.” In February, a judge sided with doctors and child services to refuse to let the parents of a hospitalized Delaware high school wrestler treat his spinal injuries “naturally” at home with herbs and spices, a.k.a. “alternative medicine”, as they had insisted. Instead, he was given court-ordered spinal surgery.
The young wrestler is now likely to make a full, if “unnatural” recovery, and baby Lila is at home with her parents, healthy. Protesters supporting the Rogers’ right to risk their child’s life are misguided, and some day, maybe Lila Rogers will tell them so. Parents have the right to raise their children as they choose, but they do not have the right to abuse them, neglect them, or risk their lives or health through well-meaning ignorance and stubbornness. Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers are very lucky, in these litigious, cautious, cowardly times, that their daughter was in a hospital that cared more about her than they did about public relations.