In the latest example of a woman reclaiming her birth rights, Joy Szabo (left) of Page, Arizona, is refusing to have the cesarean section that Page Hospital is ordering. Szabo had her 1st child vaginally. Her 2nd child was delivered via emergency cesarean at Page — and she was very thankful for it. She had her 3rd vaginally (VBAC) on the same L&D ward. But now, because the hospital has changed its “policy,” it has told Szabo that VBAC is no longer allowed, and that her only option is a cesarean. Page Hospital’s CEO Sandy Haryasz (firstname.lastname@example.org, 928-645-2424) even threatened legal action. “I asked Sandy what would happen if I just showed up refusing a C-section and she said they would obtain a court order,” Szabo told the Lake Powell Chronicle. “They don’t want to allow VBACs because she said they aren’t equipped for emergency C-sections, but if they can’t do emergency C-sections, they shouldn’t be having labor and delivery at all. That’s why women go to the hospital to have their babies — in case there is an emergency.”
Since coverage in the Chronicle and on CNN, the hospital has backed off the court bullying, but it is still deferring to its “No VBAC” policy. Szabo’s doctor supports VBAC, in theory, but told her he’s powerless. “He was wringing his hands, and said he would have to do [a cesarean] if the hospital told him he had to,” Szabo wrote in an ICAN blog post. “He told me he would lose his licence if he didn’t. I have looked into it and have yet to find where doctors lose their licence for having ethics. But it was clear to me that I was not safe in this hospital, and if I step foot in the building, I would have a cesarean, and my doctor would do it while I scream in protest.”
The closest hospital Szabo can find to support her choice is in Phoenix, 350 miles away. In order to avoid surgery, she will leave her family in mid-November and rent an apartment in Phoenix until she goes into labor. Her husband probably won’t make the birth. In the United States, it is illegal, unconstitutional, and medically unethical to force a competent adult to have surgery for any reason. And yet, some 800 hospitals officially “ban” VBAC and another 600 don’t have a single provider willing to attend, forcing hundreds of thousands of women into this situation every year.