Huntsville, AL — Hours after Rebecca Hernandez gave birth to her healthy baby boy last week, that little boy was torn from her arms and became a ward of the state due to gross negligence on behalf of Crestwood Medical Center and the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Hernandez had been issued a drug test without her consent at the hospital which falsely came back positive.
Crestwood Medical declined to comment on why Hernandez was drug tested in the first place but said in a statement Saturday that “Crestwood Medical Center is committed to following the law and regulatory requirements as well as ensuring the health and safety of our patients. Our hospital also incorporates patient care practices that are established by credentialed members of our medical staff so as to further insure safe and quality care for all of our patients.”
Now, the hospital and her doctor are attempting to blame the false-positive on Hernandez’ diet, claiming that she ate a poppy seed bun the day before they tested her.
“Screening tests can have what we call false-positive results where other things can interfere,” said Dr. Yashica Robinson, Hernandez’s doctor. You can have a substance that a patient eats. Like in this case, poppy seeds can make them test positive for opioids.”
As NBC reports, Robinson said same-day drug screenings are a problem, and hospitals should rely on laboratory confirmed tests.
Nevertheless, government was called to the hospital to take this baby, and this poor innocent child spent the first days of his life away from his mother, missing out on the bonding and immunity transfer experience through breast feeding.
“A newborn baby has to be close to mom,” Hernandez said. “They have to be with the mom. That’s the most important time in their life to be close to the mom when they’re just born.”
The good news is that after Hernandez protested, her drug test results were examined at the state lab and came back negative. She was finally reunited with her baby on Friday.
“I understand everything is a process. I understand you have to follow rules,” said Hernandez. “They should’ve done some more research before they decided to call DHR.”
An investigation conducted by Propublica in 2015 attempted to shed light on this horrifying practice of taking babies from mother based on drug tests issued without consent. The study found that poor and minority mothers were targeted more often.
According to a review of hundreds of court records, drug testing is ubiquitous in some Alabama counties — sometimes of mothers, sometimes of infants, sometimes both. In some parts of the state, hospitals test on a case-by-case basis, employing criteria that virtually ensure greater scrutiny for poor women.
ProPublica and AL.com began examining hospital drug-testing policies as part of an investigation into Alabama’s chemical endangerment law, the country’s toughest law targeting drug use in pregnancy. Since 2006, the law has been used to charge nearly 500 women with endangering their unborn children. In many cases, law enforcement officials cited hospital-administered drug tests as probable cause for arrest.
Forty-two of the 49 hospitals that deliver babies in Alabama declined to answer an AL.com/ProPublica questionnaire about testing policies, despite repeated requests over several months. Of the seven that did respond, three provided only partial information. Officials at several hospitals declined interview requests to explain why they didn’t want to answer the questionnaires.
Despite the above investigation exposing the controversial practice, as Hernandez’ case illustrates, it is still happening. While no one here is arguing for mothers to be able to harm their children through drug abuse, when the act of attempting to protect children is carried out with seemingly predatory intentions, the protectors turn into villains. When innocent and sober mothers have their babies torn from their arms purely through an act of egregious negligence, the system needs an overhaul.