David Lee, the attorney representing Anne Swanson, started the proceedings by saying there is no law on the points of this case, that it instead had to be decided on common sense. John Bailey, the attorney for Sunrise Hospital, said they based their decision to refuse to release the placenta on the fact that a potential risk may or may not be present; that the placenta had been contaminated (which was their doing anyway); and that her statement that she wished to ingest the placenta caused concern.
Judge Susan Johnson raised some questions over whether the placenta was considered a body part or a byproduct. She used the analogy of liposuction, where fat is removed – that would be considered a byproduct. David Lee didn’t directly answer that question, but instead talked about the now-common practice of cord blood removal and storage. The umbilical cord and stem-cell-rich cord blood is removed and given to the parents for a potential medical benefit. The placenta has value to the mother, and also may have a potential medical benefit to her. The placenta has no value for the hospital; in fact, they just want to destroy it.
Judge Johnson began her decision by saying this was the most unusual case she had ever heard, and that she understood the hospital’s concerns. She granted the plaintiff’s motion for injunction, and ordered Sunrise Hospital to release the placenta to Anne Swanson. Sunrise’s attorneys can write their own release of liaibility, and that the patient understands the placenta is likely contaminated. The two sides will work out a method of transport that is acceptable to both sides. Judge Johnson pointed out that in some parts of the world, it’s considered beneficial to drink one’s own urine – while that is not something she would recommend doing, she can’t say that it’s necessarily a bad thing, either. I’m not sure I would liken the benefits of placenta to drinking urine, but if that correlation brought the judge around to our side, then so be it.
So, there is the full disclosure of the court proceedings on 7.17.07, according to my observations. I am pleased that the judge saw that Anne has the right to her own baby’s placenta.
I want to thank the multitude of supporters that lent time, money or other resources to this case. It has been so gratifying to see our local community pull together in such a big way to create real change. This is just the first step toward solidifying a woman’s right to her own body’s natural creation – more action will need to be taken in order to protect every woman from this type of situation.
I will follow this up by saying that I do NOT recommend any woman in Las Vegas deliver at Sunrise Hospital – particularly if she hopes to take her placenta home. I just talked to a woman today who is due soon; she was considering either Sunrise Hospital or Southern Hills Hospital and I strongly encouraged her to avoid Sunrise. Any hospital who would subject a new mother to the level of intimidation, stress and heartache that Sunrise imposed upon Anne Swanson does not deserve the patronage of one more pregnant woman. There are other, more positive hospitals that are willing to accomodate and respect the choices a grown woman makes about her own body and health.
I am currently putting together a list of area hospitals that willingly release placentas, and will post it here as soon as it is done. If you are curious about a particular hospital’s stance in the meantime, please contact me – if I don’t know, I will find out for you.