Friday, July 29, 2005

Woman Ticketed for Nursing at Park

Rocky Mountain News reports that a woman visiting Carter Lake in Colorado was ticketed by a park ranger for (discretely, in fact) nursing her baby, allegedly violating a local ordinance against "knowingly (exposing) one's genitals in a public place". The citation violates Colorado's year-old statute protecting a woman's right to breastfeed in public. Though the ticket was dismissed, it apears she is still awaiting an appology. Thanks to Natural Family News for the article.

Story from Denver Channel 7.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Unwed dads would pay for births under plan

Missouri lawmakers have a plan to make unwed fathers reimburse the state for Medicaid costs related to the birth of their children, reports The Lebanon Daily Record (via Blogging Baby). Opponents of the proposal say the plan is unworkable, and may cause women to forgo prenatal care rather than help the state go after their boyfriends, as well as discourage voluntary acknowlegement of paternity by the fathers.

Can't child support be made retroactive to before the baby's birth? Just a thought.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blawg Review #16

Blawg Review #16 is up at Objective Justice. Sean writes:
When I signed up to host Blawg Review a few months ago I really had no idea if there was going to be anything interesting to discuss the week I would be hosting. Unfortunately, as you all well know, nothing of any consequence happened this week. That is, if you don't think that the first Supreme Court nomination in years is of any import.
I love his sense of humor. From the Ayn Rand quote at the bottom of the page, I take it that "Objective Justice" is a reference to Objectivism. Which reminds me, I want to go back and read The Fountainhead. It's been awhile, and when I read it for the first time in high school, I skipped over the socio-economic discussion. Too boring for me then. Not now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dear Mommy Blawg

My blog is two years old today. Can't believe I've been blogging so long! My introductory post is here. Never turns out quite the way you expected it to, does it?

When I started this blawg two years ago, I was a relative newcomer to the blogosphere. Really, I had only read a few blogs and most of what I knew about blogging came from print media. Not that I am a newbie by any means; on the contrary. I was using the Internet before the World Wide Web as we know it today even existed. My first emails were sent from a UNIX interface and shortly thereafter I learned about PINE and ELM and used them for several years. I read newsgroups using rn and trn, and searched out information using Archie and Veronica. My first web browser was LYNX, a text-only browser; this was before the days of GUI browsers (and PC operating systems, for that matter) (you Mac, OS/2, and Amiga users can gloat now). Most of you have no idea what I am talking about. But I digress.

So it took me a little while to find my "voice". At one point, I considered re-launching my blog as an information-only, narrow-topic, no-personal-information-included blog. I'm glad I didn't. While I greatly respect blawgs that focus on one practice area, and agree that it can be a great marketing tool, it's just not me. I like to read blogs that have some personal content, though not ones that are all personal content. I just can't stand reading those livejournal and xanga blogs that let you know which Flintstone vitamins they ate this morning. But if I'm going to read a blogger on a regular basis, I like to know a little about their personality and what's going on in their life. A little, but not too much.

Anyhow, that debate became a moot point when I launched The Baby Blawg, my online pregnancy journal. I find that I'm much more comfortable posting personal content over there. And my blogging focus has narrowed considerably without my doing so intentionally, as I become more knowledgeable about and interested in certain things.

Sometimes I look at my hit count and despair, because my daily average is so low. I do have the occasional huge spike, though, like the time The Volokh Conspiracy linked to me. It is tempting to go back and see what I wrote on the days when I got more hits. I want to be read, but I don't want to pander to an audience, or be ratings-driven. I would also like to have more comments and feedback. I wrote what I thought was a great question about Doula Liability and even submitted it to Blawg Review #15, and got no comments. Not a single one.

From the emails and comments I've received, I surmise that The Mommy Blawg has three major types of readers. First are, of course, the lawyers, who are my natural audience despite my occasional utter lack of legal content. I assume most of them have me on RSS feed anyway, so they can pick and choose. The second group is blogging mommies, typically conservative Christian homeschoolers, whose blogs I read also. Don't believe for a minute that the mind of a stay-at-home mom turns to mush; there is some amazing theological and philosophical blogging going on out there. Third are the birth junkies, those who (like me) care about things like access to midwifery care, the politics of birthing, and healthcare policy. They span a broad range of political and religious ideologies.

I want to give some credit. First on the list is Tom Mighell. Surprisingly, I had never heard of inter alia or the Internet Legal Research Weekly until I got an email from someone saying they saw my blog on Tom's site. But it was the articles he wrote in the print media – Texas Bar Journal, Dallas Bar publications, etc. – that actually introduced me to blogging. Recently I went through a file of clippings I had accumulated with useful links, internet resources, etc., and was surprised to see how many of them were written by Tom. I also want to thank Kevin Heller for being supportive, and the blawging mommies such as Mommies at Law and Bag and Baggage's Denise Howell for inspiration.

What does the future hold? Well, on August 22 I'm hosting Blawg Review. I feel the need to spiff up my blog a bit before then, almost like cleaning house before guests arrive. I need to add a blogroll, maybe a tip jar. I’m not happy with the font size. I like the colors, but I'm using a very basic Blogger template – a blog skin or some graphics would be nice and would lend a more professional appearance. I welcome any suggestions.

Also, you would not believe how many blog posts I have either written out on paper or "saved as draft" and never published. I've got some catching up and purging to do.

That about wraps it up. I started this blog when my younger son was seven months old; now he's two and a half and another one is on the way. Maybe a year from now I will have something new; a new life direction, a new inspiration, a new passion. We will see.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Texas unveils unconventional sex offender screening

[Note: the articles linked to are not appropriate for children]

Via Blogging Baby comes a report from KXAN-TV36 that Texas will begin screening sex offenders to determine their level of - er - dangerousness:
The state says these new tests will help them weed out the low-risk sex offenders, like the 19-year-old who has sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend, from the pedophile who seeks sexual pleasure from children on the playground.
Thank goodness. I always feel a little sorry for people in the first category who get lumped in with people in the second category. Not very sorry, but a little bit. You are responsible for the consequences of your actions, but in this case it is a pretty stiff penalty that will follow you the rest of your life.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hospitals cannot intentionally allow newborns to die

The Wisconson Supreme Court ruled last week against a hospital that refused to treat a premature baby. According to an Alliance Defense Fund story,
The son of Shannon Preston, an indigent pregnant woman, was born prematurely at approximately 23 weeks and three days' gestation. Because hospital policy prevented the employees from providing treatment to any baby born prior to 24 weeks' gestation, hospital staff intentionally refused to treat the baby boy, named Bridon. Two and a half hours after his birth, Bridon died.... The court ruled that the hospital was in violation of federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which provides that federally funded hospitals with emergency departments must examine and stabilize any patient who requests treatment.
Court's opinion available in HTML and PDF.

My opinion: Although I do think that hospitals should be able to set some guidelines for refusing to treat patients when it would be futile to do so, a 24-week cut-off seems arbitrary. I personally know a woman who has given birth to two 23-weekers, both of whom survived and are doing great, despite some minor medical issues. The World Health Organization, for example, places the lower limit of viability at 22 weeks and 500 grams, although there have been cases of babies surviving even earlier and smaller. I wonder if the outcome for the hospital would have been different had they adopted the lower standard. The Court's ruling doesn't seem to discuss the hospital policy specifically, though from the ADF article, I surmise it was addressed in the lower courts.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A little of this, a little of that

The Austin-American Statesman ran an article last week, Austin Midwives Face Tough Obstacles. Basically, several years ago the two Austin hospitals with nurse-midwifery practices ended the CNM's hospital privileges. This in a city which is known for being "crunchy". Here's my previous post on the subject, with some great links that still work.

WDSU-TV in New Orleans reports that a woman was told by the manager of a Starbucks in Metaire that she could not breastfeed in the restaurant. This despite a Louisiana law which deems it discriminatory for "a person to be denied the 'full and equal enjoyment of the goods and services in a public place on the grounds that the individual is a mother breast-feeding her baby.'" Starbucks continues to have problems with situations such as this, despite several well-publicised cases.

7/18/05 Edited to add this link:

There will be a Nurse Out at Grapevine Mills Mall on August 7th in honor of World Breastfeeding Week. This is not a protest, just a public awareness event. Check out ProMom for events in your area.

Greasy Joan of Keel the Pot has some good thoughts on "lactivism" and modesty.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Doula Liability

This legal question popped up on several of my newsgroups last week: Should doulas carry emergency childbirth kits when providing home labor support?

Factual background: A labor doula is a woman who supports a woman in childbirth. She provides emotional encouragement, coaching, education, and some physical support such as massage, hand-holding, etc. Doulas do not, however, perform any clinical or medical tasks, nor are they trained to deliver babies. They may, however, have had instruction in emergency childbirth and/or infant CPR.

An emergency childbirth kit can be purchased for about $25 on eBay and includes things like a bulb syringe, cord clamps, sterile gloves, disposable pads, etc.

Often, doulas may come to the mother'’s home to provide support during early labor before accompanying her to the hospital or, in the case of a homebirth, before the midwife arrives. It happens very rarely that when a doula arrives at the home, it is apparent that labor has progressed more quickly than expected, and baby is on his way, with no time to go anywhere. Should a doula carry an emergency childbirth kit in order to be prepared for such an event?

The legal issue: Could a doula, by carrying an emergency childbirth kit, be charged with "practicing midwifery without a license"; or, in states where direct-entry midwifery is not entirely legal/regulated, "practicing nurse-midwifery" or "practicing medicine without a license"? What steps could she take to protect herself from liability? Are "Good Samaritan" statutes applicable?

Here are some suggestions made by non-lawyer birth professionals:
  • Call 911 right away, and follow the instructions given to you over the phone while you wait for help to arrive. (Nevermind that EMTs typically have less than 5 hours instruction in emergency childbirth, while a certified Doula has 16 hours of classroom instruction and 15 or more hours observing actual births prior to certification. We'’re talking legal liability, not actual ability, here).

  • Suggest that the parents themselves keep an emergency childbirth kit just in case. In fact, a doula could sell such a kit to her clients, and then repurchase it after the birth if it was not needed.

  • Inform the parents that you are not acting in the role of a Labor Doula anymore, but as a concerned friend. Obtain their permission to assist the birth, or have them formally ask you for help.

  • Do not accept payment for the labor support.

  • Let Dad do the actual catching. This has the added benefit of keeping the Doula's name off the birth certificate.

  • Make sure that parents have a birth plan which would state they were planning to go to a hospital. Preferably this would already be on file with the doctor or hospital.

Non-legal discussion centered around whether or not the items in the birth kit were necessary; i.e. it is not usually necessary to clamp the cord or suction the baby.

Personally, I think that some, if not most, of the above suggestions for reducing liability would be ineffective. So, I was hoping for some additional lawyer brains. Were any significant issues missed? What do you think?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Complete Hypocricy

WCNC News reports that a woman in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina who walked into a Victoria's Secret hoping to breastfeed her infant in a dressing room was told by a clerk "she might be more comfortable" in the restroom of a neaby store. As is par for the course, a nurse-in was staged, and legislation has been proposed. One woman at the protest is quoted as saying, "It's crazy that a national company who sells women's bodies says it's not OK to do with your body what God intended it to do."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hurricane Dennis

I always like to track the hurricanes. Don't know why, we're not in their zone. Here's Hurricane Dennis from the National Weather Service.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Bluebook

Christine Hurt of Conglomerate writes a review of the Eighteenth Edition of The Bluebook. For my non-lawyer readers, the Bluebook is a guide (the guide, some might say) to citing legal materials, the form of which can be a bit arcane. The Bluebook will tell you whether you need to italicize your periods or not, and allows attorneys and law students to write things like this:
Charlesworth v. Mack, 925 F.2d 314 (1st Cir. 1991), cert. granted, 60 U.S.L.W. 3562 (U.S. Jan. 21, 1992) (No. 92-212).
And what's more amazing, for other lawyers to understand it compeletely.

Now for you non-Texas lawyers, this a good time to mention that Texas writ history (the equivalent of cert.) is so screwed up, we have to have our own "green book" to keep track of it. At least as far as the 9th edition (and I think it's been changed again since then), there were 13 different writ history status notations for civil cases and 8 different petition history notations for criminal appeals. Sheesh.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Not a River in Egypt

I love these headlines: "Experts Don't Expect More Cases of Mad Cow". It's called DENIAL!

I have a good Mad Cow link but don't have time to post it now. I'll look it up later - watch this space.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Blawg Review #12

Kevin Heller of Tech Law Advisor has posted Blawg Review #12. For you non-lawyers, don't be afraid, it won't bite. Kevin more or less pioneered the Blawg Review with his weekly "Belly Up To the Bar" feature, so he knows what he's doing. There's also going to be a special July 4th Blawg Review.