Annie Ferris no longer is a baby, but her parents still are fighting to hold accountable the hospital she was in briefly after her birth in an ambulance as well as a social worker who allegedly bullied Annie’s mom and booted her from the hospital without her newborn.
The lawsuit brought by Scott and Jodi Ferris charges the Hershey Medical Center and social worker Angelica Lopez-Heagy violated the family’s constitutional rights, says the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is defending the couple.
WND reported earlier this year a judge refused to dismiss the claims.
But now the court has done exactly that, refusing to hear the family’s case.
So HSLDA announced this week it is appealing the ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, charging violations of the Fourth and 14th Amendments.
“We feel [the lower court] ignored important ways that the defendants violated the parents’ constitutional rights,” the organization said in a statement. “We plan to show the Third Circuit important issues that the lower court missed in its analysis.”
HSLDA said the conflict developed when Jodi Ferris arrived at Hershey Medical Center with her daughter, who had been born in the ambulance.
“Jodi, like any concerned mom, apparently asked hospital staff too many questions about the care her baby daughter was receiving,” HSLDA said.
“Jodi received conflicting answers, ranging from a statement that Annie was doing fine to one that she would need stay in the hospital for three days. This understandably caused Jodi more concern and prompted her to ask her questions with more urgency. Not too long after Jodi and Annie arrived, it appeared that the medical staff had had enough of Jodi questioning what they were doing. A government social worker, Angela Lopez-Heagy, entered Jodi’s room and announced that she was there to conduct an investigation of allegations the nature of which she refused to divulge.
“When Jodi told Lopez-Heagy that she wasn’t comfortable answering questions without knowing what the allegations were, the social worker told her that if Jodi wasn’t willing to cooperate she would call a police officer to take custody of Annie.
“The social worker grilled Jodi about why she had refused to allow the hospital to give Annie the hepatitis B vaccine, and asked other questions about Annie’s care that HSLDA believes fall within routine parental decision making,” HSLDA said.
“Eventually the social worker told Jodi that she would need to agree to a ‘safety plan.’ When Jodi asked to see the plan, Lopez-Heagy told her it wasn’t written down yet, but if she did not consent to the safety plan and agree to ‘whatever the hospital wanted,’ she would lose custody of her newborn child.”
That’s exactly what Lopez-Heagy then demanded.
“Jodi was then escorted off the hospital premises. On the way out she met Scott, who was just returning from dropping off the other children. Jodi was allowed to return every three hours to nurse the baby, but she could not remain in the hospital. She and Scott slept in their car in the parking lot across the street,” HSLDA said.
“The next morning, a juvenile-court judge returned Annie to Scott and Jodi. Two weeks later he dismissed the case against them.”
The organization said its concern is that parental rights are being “eroded in many areas of our law and culture.”
“Anytime and anywhere that parental rights are diminished, it ultimately affects homeschooling.”
The organization said there “appears to be a growing trend among doctors and nurses, especially in hospitals, to quickly summon social workers to coerce cooperation with their questions, tests, or recommendations – not to investigate suspected abuse or neglect.”
While the confrontation was developing in the hospital, a physician told Jodi her baby scored a 9 on a physical exam applied to newborns known as the APGAR test. A score of 8 or higher is considered healthy. But then another doctor said the baby was “very sick” and would need to stay in the hospital.
Later, two more hospital staffers responded, one saying the baby was fine but the other saying the hospital was required by law to keep the baby for at least 48 hours.
The hospital also administrated several shots to the baby without permission, court files note.
The hospital and social worker’s agency in Pennsylvania previously declined to respond to WND requests for comment.