Medical kidnapping is a real issue that plagues families across the country. The police knock on your door and remove your child from your care because a doctor, hospital, or other medical professional reported you to Child Protective Services. Can the police actually take your child for failing to provide recommended medical care? The short answer is, yes, they can.
You should still understand that you have the right as the parent of the child to refuse or accept medical treatments on behalf of your minor children. However, many states unfairly remove this right from parents by stating “Compelling State Interest” when notifying Child Protective Services about your decision. The compassionate Knoxville family law attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter fight vehemently against this unfair process.
Defining medical kidnapping
A child has been medically kidnapped when he or she has been forcibly taken from their parents because the parents refused to have the child receive dangerous or risky medical treatments. Medical kidnapping is an overzealous enforcement of the Tennessee child protection laws.
In normal circumstances, a parent has rights protected by the United States Constitution that allows them to protect, care for, and make decisions for their children. There are exceptions present to these laws when it comes to child protection laws.
For example, if a parent refuses to have their child undergo risky medical treatments that doctors and other medical professionals believe will help the child, law enforcement agencies can be brought into the situation. This often happens when the doctor assigned to the child’s case believes that the decision of the parents endangers the wellbeing of the child.
The Division of Child Services (DCS) in Tennessee enforces these laws and intervenes in situations where neglect and abuse of a child are present. The sad fact of the matter is that these laws are unfairly enforced using the claims of medical neglect. Medical kidnapping is an infringement upon the rights of the parents.
How medical kidnapping occurs
Almost every medical kidnapping case occurs in the same manner. A child is taken to the hospital for an injury, a psychological problem, or an ailment because the parent is looking to get help for the child.
Oftentimes, these situations need to be handled using new medication that hasn’t been widely used. The doctors treating the child are required to inform the parents of any possible side effects as well as the possible positive outcomes so the parents can make an informed decision about treatment.
This decision could be taken out of the hands of the parents if the hospital believes that the child does not have any other options. This is often when DCS steps in and takes control of the situation, even preventing the parents from obtaining a second opinion.
DCS might open an investigation into the situation and could wind up getting the court involved. If the court gets involved in the case and issues an order, the parent will need to accept the medical treatment for their child without question. If the parent does not comply with the order, he or she could lose custody of the child and even face criminal charges.
Medical kidnapping can occur in another situation where the parent has been accused of medical child abuse by having the child undergo medical treatments for unreasonable situations.
Do I have rights against medical kidnapping?
You do! You have:
- The right to decide and evaluate decisions for your children
- The right to make financial and medical decisions for the child until they reach the age of 18
- The right to reject or accept medical treatments for the child until the age of 18
- The right to seek an independent evaluation of your child’s health
- The right to refuse consent to a medical evaluation of your child
- The right to request copies of all evaluations conducted by your child’s doctor
- The right to seek second opinions, voice concerns, and reject treatments you are uncomfortable with for your child
Was your child taken from you by DCS or another law enforcement agency in Tennessee because you refused to subject him or her to risky or dangerous medical treatment? If so, you might have a case of medical kidnapping. Call the office of LaFevor & Slaughter at (865) 637-6258, or complete a contact form online to schedule a consultation with a Knoxville family law attorney.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.