Parents Sue After Hospital Takes Newborn Away for 12 Hours Over Declining a Shot

Bougher family
CBS Chicago

Two parents in Illinois are suing the hospital where their daughter was born, after they claim a disagreement over a vitamin K shot led hospital staff to take their baby from them. In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Tribune, Angela and Brian Bougher insist that they're not anti-vaxxers, but claim that they didn’t think the shot was medically necessary and definitely didn't think it was grounds for removing their baby. But as their story has made headlines, it seems they aren't the only parents who had this happen.

  • The incident involving the Boughers happened last winter, shortly after they welcomed their fifth child, Glori, into the world.

    According to CBS Chicago, the Boughers jointly made the decision not to have the hospital administer an eye ointment known as erythromycin, as well as the vitamin K shot, which essentially helps promote blood-clotting and prevent potentially life-threatening bleeding in the brain or intestines.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends the dosage of vitamin K, which has been widely used at birth in the United States since the 1960s. But the Boughers told the Chicago Tribune that they'd made a decision not to let their daughter receive the shot based on their beliefs that "God’s creation isn’t automatically deficient or flawed at birth." They had done the same for their previous four children, who were born in Wisconsin.

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  • The couple was prepared to sign a waiver acknowledging their decision, but instead, their newborn daughter Glori was whisked away.

    Angela Bougher says she did not see her daughter again for another 12 hours, except to breastfeed her once briefly, after a nurse declared she was reporting the parents to the Department of Children and Family Services.

    What they didn't know at the time is that the move wasn't just the decision of an overbearing nurse -- it was actually the direct result of a DCFS policy that regards a parent's refusal of vitamin K shots as medical neglect.

    The Chicago Tribune reports that the hotly debated policy was actually rescinded a year ago and the shot is no longer considered to be medically necessary -- but for some reason, the Boughers were caught in the crossfire.

    In the meantime, they were confused, frightened, and desperately missing their baby.

    “I honestly could not understand what was going on,” Angela Bougher said through tears in a recent interview. “I was in total shock. I’ve never not had my baby right away."

  • The incident wasn't really over once Glori was safely returned to them, either. The Boughers said DCFS showed up at their door two weeks later.

    Almost immediately, panic washed over her, as she began to fear all five of her kids would be taken.

    “I see these three cars. What else are you going to think?" Angela Bougher told CBS Chicago. "Why would three police cars be at my house except that they’re here to take my kids?”

    In the end, the Boughers were investigated, but no charges of medical neglect were filed. Still, the whole ordeal left them shaken and feeling violated.

  • On Monday, the Boughers joined several other parents in a lawsuit waged at both hospitals and DCFS.

    The lawsuit alleges that both medical staff and DCFS acted illegally, by either removing newborns from their parents' care or coercing them into getting the shot -- even though it was known that the policy had been scrapped. 

    The families all say they were traumatized by what happened and are seeking monetary damages, as well as an end to the practice. 

    After the incident with the Boughers, a DCFS memo surfaced, stating: "We are simply trying to make sure that we are not overstepping the boundaries. This procedure inappropriately identifies what can and should be considered medically necessary.”

    But for the Boughers, this about face in practice wasn't quite enough.

    “Later on they backtrack, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we shouldn’t have done that.’ Like, time out, that’s it? Yeah, we’re relieved for us and for others, but at the same time the outrage and the violation, it’s not gone,” Brian Bougher said. “There was no apology.”

    James Holdermann, who went through a similar incident with his wife Courtney, told CBS Chicago that he too was left furious over the whole thing -- especially after they learned they were not alone.

    “My wife was traumatized," he said. "You know, we’re scared, and I thought this is maybe a fluke. But now I see this is a widespread practice, and it’s impacting many, many parents."

    For now, the Holdermanns, the Boughers, and countless other unnamed parents eagerly await the judge's decision and hope that the lawsuit holds DCFS and other medical professionals accountable for what they feel was a gross injustice.