Saturday, July 21, 2007

This Week's Legal News

Breasts, placentas, midwives, and the TSA -

Woman wins settlement in breastfeeding case:
Watch-maker and clothier Fossil Inc. agreed to pay $3,600 to a woman who was barred from breast-feeding her infant while visiting a company showroom, the New York Civil Liberties Union said on Tuesday.

Lass King, 37, a buyer for a Maine clothing store and a mother of two, said she received a letter of apology and the payment from Fossil after threatening the company with a lawsuit.

In its letter to King, Fossil also said it had issued a policy affirming that breast-feeding was permitted in all Fossil stores and showrooms, said Galen Sherwin, director of the NYCLU's Reproductive Rights Project.

Representatives of Fossil could not immediately confirm details of the settlement.

New York law states that women are permitted to breast-feed "in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be."

Hospital told to return placenta to mom:
A woman has won a court fight to keep the placenta after her daughter's birth. She had planned to grind it up and ingest it as a way to fight postpartum depression, but now plans to bury it.

Clark County District Court Judge Susan Johnson granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday, ordering Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in southern Nevada to return the placenta to Anne Swanson. Hospital officials said they will comply.

What is interesting was that the plaintiff was expecting a ruling on a temporary injunction, not a ruling on the merits (see Swanson vs. Sunrise Hospital for the blow-by-blow). Doesn't sound as if the hospital will fight this decision, but they are not changing their policy either:
Amy Stevens, system vice president for Sunrise Health, which operates Sunrise Hospital, described the ruling as specific to Swanson. She said the hospital must comply with strict regulations in handling human biohazardous waste.

There is no Nevada law prohibiting hospitals from returning placentas to mothers. But several Las Vegas area hospitals told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the organ is usually destroyed unless a physician designates it for medical tests or a patient seeks it for specific religious or cultural reasons.

USA Today ran a piece this week on placentophagia (Ingesting the placenta: Is it healthy for new moms?) which mentions the Swanson case.

After numerous complaints, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has changed its policy regarding breastmilk:

TSA is also modifying the rules associated with carrying breast milk through security checkpoints. Mothers flying with, and now without, their child will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint.

Breast milk is in the same category as liquid medications. Now, a mother flying without her child will be able to bring breast milk through the checkpoint, provided it is declared prior to screening.

Birth Without Boundaries lawyer Jake Marcus comments:
Under the old TSA rule, pumped breastmilk had to be packaged in 3 oz containers all of which had to fit into one 12 oz ziplock bag. Birth Without Boundaries has assisted many women whose pumped milk was confiscated and dumped by TSA security officers, either because it was not packaged according to regulation or because the TSA officer did not know what the regulation was. All of our complaints to the TSA have gone unanswered, until now.
Marcus also recommends that women traveling with expressed milk carry a copy of the modified policy, just in case they encounter an employee who has not yet gotten the memo.

Judge dismisses Mendon midwife lawsuit:
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a former Mendon midwife in a bid to have her license to practice in Vermont reinstated.

Roberta Devers-Scott claimed in the lawsuit that the state violated her due process rights, leading to the revocation of her midwife license. Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz, whose office oversees professional licensing of midwives in Vermont, was among the defendants named in the lawsuit.

Judge J. Garvan Murtha issued a six-page ruling in U.S. District Court in Brattleboro granting a motion filed on the defendants' behalf dismissing the lawsuit, ruling, in part, Markowitz had immunity from the lawsuit.

Michael Sussman, Devers-Scott's attorney, said Friday he planned to appeal the judge's ruling to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.
And that's what is making news this week.

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