A US mother's fight to keep control of her child's healthcare
On the 29th August 2011, a US judge thankfully threw out a case involving a woman who was arrested back in March for simply being a mum. Detroit mother, Maryanne Godboldo, was charged with using a gun to hold police off as they threatened to take her daughter from her, unlawfully. After a 12-hour standoff, Maryanne surrendered and subsequently spent a week in jail while her lawyers negotiated to get her $500,000 cash surety bond (the equivalent of UK bail) reduced to a $200,000 personal recognizance bond (these are issued if the person isn’t considered to be a flight risk. They are released, but if they don’t turn up when summoned to court, they have to pay the set amount).
All of this happened because Maryanne refused to give her daughter a dangerous antipsychotic drug. She felt this was the only way she could protect her child from being forcefully medicated with Risperdal, a neuroleptic antipsychotic medication with a list of serious side effects, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, aggression, anxiety, dizziness and lack of coordination. We can easily see why Maryanne didn’t want to give this gem to 13-year-old Ariana!
After Maryanne refused to hand her child over to Child Protection Services (CPS), the CPS called in the police, who turned up – minus a warrant – and smashed Maryanne’s front door down before trying to forcibly take her child from her. This is terrifying behaviour from the police in the supposed ‘land of the free’, and things got worse when a heavily armed special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team arrived on the scene and a 12-hour standoff ensued.
In case you’re wondering what a SWAT team normally does with its time, the following is from Wikipedia: “SWAT team members' duties include: performing hostage rescues and counter-terrorism operations; serving high risk arrest and search warrants; subduing barricaded suspects; and engaging heavily-armed criminals”. To which we can seemingly add, “Terrorising parents concerned about overmedication of their children”.
Once Maryanne had surrendered, her daughter was taken to a psychiatric ward, and Maryanne to jail.
Many Americans showed their support for Maryanne by calling elected officers every day demanding that they investigate the procedures of both the CPS and its parent agency, the Department of Human Services. A website was set up to keep people updated on her case, t-shirts were printed, a Facebook page set up, and fundraisers, petitions and prayer vigils organised. The community really pulled together to offer their collective support, and therefore strength.
As a lawyer pointed out on Fox Business, Maryanne Godboldo is to be congratulated for her courageous stand against worryingly strongarm State tactics. Her case is yet another reminder of why it is so important that we hang on to our fundamental rights and freedoms. The often-difficult decision of whether to medicate their children should always lie with the competent parent, not the State; no State must ever have the right to force parents, at gunpoint, to administer potentially dangerous medication to their children.
Are we sleepwalking into a world where parents do not have the option to say “no”, and to seek out alternatives if they so wish? Consider the story of Abraham Cherrix. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and then refused chemotherapy because of its side effects, triggering a protracted court battle in which the State insisted he have more chemotherapy – while pursuing his parents for medical neglect. Although ending positively, with ‘Abraham’s law’ strengthening parents’ rights to choose how their children are medicated, the attitude of the powers-that-be was highly authoritarian. We hope that the result of this latest case will encourage US authorities to realise that responsible parents will always seek the absolute best healthcare for their child, whether or not it matches the current orthodoxy.