Skip to comments.Omaha court case widens from screening test to baby's meals
Posted on 10/17/2007 7:14:18 PM PDT by jabchae
A judge ordered that 6-week-old Joel Anaya, whose hungry cries interrupted Friday's court hearing, be administered the state-mandated newborn screening test his parents object to and remain in foster care until the test results are received, despite the mother's wishes to continue nursing the boy.
Joel's parents, Mary and Josue Anaya of Omaha, object to the testing because of their religious beliefs and conscience. They believe in certain Scriptures that say life is in the blood.
The Anayas previously fought a court order that the testing be done on their daughter, Rosa, but in 2005, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the order to have the testing performed. In that case, Rosa remained in the Anayas' custody while the case was being argued.
State law requires metabolic testing of all newborns. The tests, which involve pricking a baby's heel and drawing about five drops of blood, are used to screen for a variety of conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease. Doctors recommend the test be performed when babies are between 1 day and 1 week old, because the diseases could lead to mental retardation or death.
Most states provide some sort of exception for people who object to the blood tests based on "religious" or "sincerely held" beliefs. Nebraska has no such provision.
Joel was taken into state custody after a petition was filed Wednesday in Douglas County Juvenile Court. Prosecutors argued that because Joel has not received the testing, he is at risk for mental retardation or death.
Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich agreed.
"I can't imagine greater risk than death or disability. How does it get any worse than those two things?" she said at Friday's hearing, which was held to determine whether Joel should remain in state custody or be returned to his parents.
Crnkovich said she didn't believe the Anayas would follow the order to have the testing done, so she ordered that the boy remain in foster care until preliminary results confirm no further testing is needed.
"I don't know how long it will take. I am sensitive to the love of these parents. But I have to admit, I don't understand placing a loved one at risk. That one boggles the mind," Crnkovich said.
Hospital staff say results could take about a week.
Earlier in the hearing, Mary Anaya, who has been visiting her son several times a day in foster care to breastfeed, cringed when she heard him crying from outside the courtroom.
Dressed in a conservative black suit, she told the judge her convictions prevented her from swearing, so instead she "affirmed" to tell the truth before taking the stand. During her testimony, she answered questions about her son's feeding habits. "Do you nurse your baby?" her attorney, Jeff Downing, asked.
"Yes," she replied.
"How many times per day?"
"Eight or nine times," she said.
"If I said someone came in and said the baby needs nursed, this would be about the right time, wouldn't it?"
Interrupting, Crnkovich said the line of questioning was inappropriate and briefly talked to the attorneys in private.
She then left the courtroom, and when she returned, she quipped, "It has come to the court's attention . . . that the child is hungry and needs to be fed."
She ordered workers with the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department to take the baby out of the courthouse, feed him, and not bring him back.
She later added, "I don't approve of Mom popping in (to the foster home) nine times a day to nurse."
The hearing continued with Mary Anaya on the stand.
When asked what her objection to the testing was, Anaya said the Bible states that life is in the blood. "To me, the blood is something important and not to be tampered with," she said.
Anaya and her husband are ordained ministers and administrators of the Mission for All Nations food and clothing pantry in Omaha. They take their faith very seriously and are raising their children according to those beliefs, Anaya told the court.
But after the hearing, crying in a courtroom hallway, Mary Anaya seemed more concerned about her son being fed than the testing being done.
"This is inhumane to deny my right to feed my baby," she said, distraught over where her baby had been taken.
The Anayas have 10 children aged 21 years to 6 weeks. They have avoided having the metabolic screening done on most of their 10 children.
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If they have 9 proven healthy kids, I’d be willing to exempt them from the blood tests.
And of course the social worker opposes the breast feeding - how dare the mother be a mother, and see her child several times a day and bond with it? Despite government ads that breast is best ...
On the other, these people knew or should have known that their state law has no exception on the grounds of religious belief, so they should have moved or sued several children back.
Save us, dear Lord, from those who would save us.
Art Hoppe, On the Death of Robert Kennedy
San Francisco Chronicle, 1968
When asked what her objection to the testing was, Anaya said the Bible states that life is in the blood. “To me, the blood is something important and not to be tampered with,” she said.
so risk the life to save the blood?
By the way, the parents did get the baby back, only a little worse for wear, after six days.
The life is in the blood for sure, but the main Scriptural injuctions dealing with it are for forbidding to eat it and the fact that the life is in the blood is the reason.
There’s nothing in Scripture that I could see would prevent testing. Transfusions-I could see someone’s reasoning, but not testing.
What’s she going to do if her kids cut themselves? Or they witness a bad accident and need to help? Do they not eat meat because it has blood in it, no matter how hard you try to get it out?
Good questions, all.
I hope none of you are under the illusion that the press reported things correctly. They keep hounding us to say more about our religious beliefs whereas we would prefer to keep
this an issue of conscience.
Oldest 2 children- not born in Nebraska. Oldest now 20-he went to college at 14, graduated at 17 with 2 degrees-youngest graduate ever of that University. 2nd oldest 17, sophomore at same university on the deans list.
Next 5 children-homebirthed in Nebraska. Received certified letters telling us to take children in for screening.
Checked into the law and found no enforcement provision.
Informed by others who had refused that we would be ignored or fined for non-compliance. We were ignored all five times.
Our 8th child, 6th born in Nebraska was Rosa. When she was 2 months old we received a subpoena to District Court. That had been added to the enforcement provision of the statute. We found a lawyer and fought it. That lawyer wanted us to fight it based on the First Amendment free exercise of religion. The case was only heard by the local district
court judge who understood nothing about the case and by the Nebraska Supreme Court. The Nebraska Supreme Court moved the case from the appeals court and the US Supreme Court did not hear the case.
Our 9th child, Justus, was born 2 years ago in Iowa to avoid the situation. A waiver form is included in the birth registration packet there.
For 2 consecutive legislative sessions, State Senator Synowiecki has proposed exemption legislation. The 2nd time we had high hopes. We had more people testifying in favor of the bill than against, signed testimonies of the trauma the screening had caused other parents, and a petition signed by over 100 people. There were only a couple of testimonies
from the state against the bill. However, it was killed in the health and human services committee and never made it to the floor for a vote.
Here are e-mails for the committee:
Due to various reasons, Joel ended up being born in Nebraska. Believe me, if I had any idea this would have happened, I would have made more of an effort to have him in Iowa.
Joel was born on September 2. We immediately found a lawyer. On September 19th we received a certified letter telling us about the screening law and giving us until September 21st
to test. Then, we received a phone call from Newborn Screening asking if we would test. We replied no. She asked if I knew what would happen next. I replied yes understanding that we would be subpoenaed into district court as stated in the statute.
Weeks went by without hearing anything. Then, on the morning of October 11th just after I had gotten Joel up from his morning nap, my doorbell rang. When I answered the door, an
armed sheriffs deputy came barging into my house yelling that he had a court order for Joel Anaya. I was screaming that I had not given him permission to enter my home. He said that he had a court order. I said that I wanted to call my lawyer. He said, Theres no time. There were 2 other deputies with guns and clubs guarding my doorways. He heard my children downstairs and ran downstairs where all my young children were. He snatched Joel out of my sons arms and headed for the door. Joel was fussing and I knew he hadnt eaten in 3 hours. I begged to be allowed to nurse him. The deputy told me, There is no time. He will be cared for by professionals. He ran out the door with my baby leaving me begging to nurse my baby and screaming for my son to call the lawyer. It was a cold day and the CPS people were not there yet to hand the baby over to, so the weather forced him back inside. I was crying and pleading to nurse.
My husband came home from the store just then. The sheriff deputies blocked him from entering our home.
I do not have time to elaborate further, but I do want to mention that the social workers invited me along, were quite compassionate, and allowed me to nurse on demand the first
day and a half until the juvenile court judge got all bent out of shape about my frequent nursing.
My entire family has been needlessly traumatized. I can not begin to tell you about all the ripple effects. For the sake of future generations, please help us to fight this horrible injustice.
As a mother your situation terrifies me. That a judge can be so ignorant of common medical standards, like ebf’ing being recognized as important to a childs health... that she could be so dismissive of your views and feelings... that it appears she chose to punish your family for having differing views from hers... (why else place your baby in foster care pending test results) is shocking and horrifying.
Is there a link or page we can go to that will keep people updated on the situation?
Metabolic testing/screening ping, and be sure to read post 11.
We do not have a webpage for this, but that is a good idea. I will ask my oldest, a computer programmer, to work on it. In the meantime here is our lawyer’s blog. http://nebraskainjurylawreport.com/
We did get Joel back after 5 and a half terribly long days. There is a picture of me holding Joel with a few of my other children.
Again, please write to someone in post 11. My lawyer’s site will probably have additional addresses to write to eventually.
So you’re okay with this?
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Bureaucrats be damned...
Versus what are the odds for getting a bacterial infection from a needle stick in a hospital? One in 2,000? One in 1,000?
Mind you, I am making up these figures: but I'd bet dollars to donuts that the risk of bacterial infection at a hospital is greater than the rate of metabolic disease in a child whose parents an siblings do not have this disease.
Furthermore, the risk of disrupting nutrition and bonding bu interfering with a breastfeeding mom who wants to nurse her baby --- Good Lord, this is a tiny baby only 6 weeks old! --- outweighs the risks they are trying to screen for.
I'm not drawing any final conclusions here. I'd want to see the risk/benefit statistics. Surely they must be available somwhere.
By the way, what a beautiful picture of you and your baby at your lawyer’s blogsite. God bless you and your family.