Drug War

If You Want to Keep Your Baby, Steer Clear of the Pasta Salad


ABC News reports that Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, Children and Youth Services faces another lawsuit by a mother who says her baby was seized based on a positive drug test result triggered by poppy seeds. The county took Eileen Ann Bower's infant son three days after his birth on July 13, 2009, and kept him in foster care for more than two months because a sample of her blood taken at New Castle's Jameson Hospital tested positive for opiates. Bower says her last meal before she gave birth included a pasta salad with Perfect Pinch Salad Supreme Seasoning, which contains poppy seeds (the fourth listed ingredient). Like Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez, whose baby was kidnapped last year under similar circumstances (in their case, they say, because of a poppy seed bagel), Bower is suing the Jameson Health System as well as the county agency for negligence and for conspiring to violate her rights to privacy and due process. In their suit, which was filed with help from the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Mort and Rodriguez argue that Jameson's cutoff for opiates is so low that such mistakes are bound to happen.

As I noted last fall, even if the tests were infallible, taking a baby away from his parents without evidence of abuse or neglect, based on nothing more than the fact that one or both of them has used an illegal drug, cannot be justified by the child's best interests, which are supposed to be the guiding standard in such cases.

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  1. In all the reporting of this story, the part I don’t understand is how the hospital can drug test without her consent. That’s the crime here. An even bigger crime is that they probably do get her consent on a 50 page document that she had to sign to be admitted.

    1. Yeah, this. Every time I read about one of these this is my first thought.

      My second thought is that I hate shit that makes me side with the kind of people who promote giving birth outside hospitals (not that I don’t hate the AMA), but maybe they have the right idea.

    2. my first thought too.

    3. Some states have laws requiring these tests.

      Still a crime, just committed by the legislature, not the hospital.

      1. You know, they won’t send me an email with an appointment time because of HIPA, but they’ll release the results of a blood sample to the state. 4th and 5th Amendments, how do they fucking work?

  2. all your babies are belong to us

  3. And I can’t even get the state of Ohio to investigate a five-year old boy whose mother is a homeless, heroin-addicted prostitute who is (probably) pimping out her son for drugs and a place to sleep. Fuck them all.

    1. Tell the news. Unless they’re black, in which case the news in Ohio wouldn’t care.

  4. It happens.

  5. The drug war is the worst evil our society has perpetrated since slavery was abolished. Un-fucking-believable.

  6. OMLETES!!1!!!!!11!

  7. We all know poppy seed is a gateway drug. Celery seed and fennel seeds won’t be far behind. Think of the children, damn you.

    1. Next thing you know, you’re eating a bag of pumpkin seeds a day. The horror!!!

  8. When it comes to your children, you have no medical privacy. While my family’s story is nowhere near as bad as those in the article, it also shows how exposing your kids to doctors can bring the law down on you.

    Two years ago, our then one-year old daughter had a routine test of the lead levels in her blood. It was high. The hospital told the county (they’re required to, by law) and the county told us to fix our house, threatening us with escalating fines if we didn’t comply.

    Forty thousand dollars and a government-approved lead contractor later, our daughter’s lead levels were down to normal levels, for which we were very grateful. We weren’t so grateful for the shoddy work, the cost, and the fact that we were forced to spend money on things that don’t matter (replacing the braggers along our third-story roof line), leaving less money for things that do (getting rid of the lead paint in our house instead of just coating it with special paint).

    Because we care about her health, we still have our daughter tested for lead regularly (and her levels are still normal) but I always worry that a bad result will bring the county knocking again.

    1. I think you need to compare the relative risks here. Which is worse for your daughter: being taken from you by the State, or having elevated lead levels. Note that there is no evidence that elevated lead levels are bad for kids past a certain very young age.

  9. Opiates are not illegal, which makes this even worse.

  10. If I could, I’d lump together all the despotic shitheads that came up with these laws and regulations, and the people who execute them, drench them in gasoline, and set them on fire.

    1. Don’t forget me!

      1. You kept my corpse for just such an occasion.

        1. I know I deserve it!

  11. “your blood test came back and you’re clean, but you have the metabolism of a 65 year old woman”.

    1. “your horse has diabetes”


  12. And I’m sure that some fucking CPS institution will better care for a 3 day old baby than it’s mother.

  13. Right about now, I wish the State? would come along and take my kids from me….

    But I keeeeeeed!!!!

    1. The state will only take them if you want them. If you want to give them to the state, they don’t want them unless you’re willing to be prosecuted for something/anything.

  14. Damn poppy seeds! I knew they’d get us some day.

  15. The you fact you use substances we say are illegal means its in the best interest of the child to take the child away.

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