In the moments after Angela Bougher gave birth last winter, she and her husband, a suburban Chicago pastor, were eager to hold their new baby girl.
But as Bougher was being treated in the delivery room, the couple contends, a nurse picked up the infant to administer a vitamin K shot, a common practice in maternity wards across the country to help a baby’s blood-clotting ability in case of emergency.
The Boughers said they are not “anti-vaxxers” or against any procedure they believe to be medically necessary, but they didn’t think the shot was in that category. They had agreed to sign a waiver confirming their wishes that the new baby — their fifth child — not receive vitamin K, based on their beliefs that God’s creation isn’t automatically deficient or flawed at birth.
But instead of offering them a form, the Boughers allege, the nurse announced she was reporting the couple to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and left the room with the newborn. It would be about 12 hours before they got the child back, the couple said.
“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 episode was the result of a controversial DCFS policy that classified parents’ refusal of their newborn’s vitamin K shot as medical neglect, a move that thrust the agency into a contentious debate over the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s care. The policy was rescinded a year ago as agency leaders sought to ensure that DCFS wasn’t “overstepping the boundaries” of state law and determined the shots should not be classified as medically necessary.