Imagine your child is sick and you go to the doctor. After hearing the diagnosis, you leave and seek a second medical opinion. Well, that turned out to be a decision that landed one California couple in trouble with Child Services — and the police — who forcibly removed their child from their care for "severe neglect." Is caring for your child now a criminal offense?
The nightmare began when Anna and Alex Nikolayev took their five-month old son, Sammy, to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento for "flu-like" symptoms. In short, the nurse gave Sammy medicine, but didn't know what it was in it when questioned by Anna. Naturally, she was concerned. It turned out to be a antibiotic, but when the discussion evolved into one about heart surgery for their son, the Nikolayevs sought a second medical opinion.
Without a formal discharge, the Nikolayevs took their son to another hospital, and was told Sammy was well enough to be at home with his parents. The police did arrive, but when they saw the doctor's report, they allowed the family to return home. The doctors at Sutter Memorial were livid and reported the couple to Child Services, which along with the police, went to the Nikolayev's house, and they snatched Sammy.
Anna recorded the entire incident, with one officer saying, "I’m going to grab your baby, and don’t resist, and don’t fight me okay?" Alex said the whole episode reminded him of a "communist regime."
The fact that two hospitals had differing opinions about the child's status should've been enough to call into question any allegations of severe neglect.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time police have been used to settle a medical dispute — for the worse.
In April of 2011, there was a 10-hour siege at the home of Maryanne Godboldo, who refused to continue giving her daughter anti-psychotic drugs when her health turned for the worse. The police and Child Services also said Godboldo's daughter was being neglected.
Luckily, Godboldo didn't kill anyone, and the standoff ended peacefully. However, one should ask why being a responsible parent can sometimes be construed as criminal activity. The Nikolayevs were just trying to find the best possible medical care for their child, and Godboldo refused to worsen her daughter's condition by giving her more anti-psychotic drugs. Granted, the Nikolayevs should've waited for a proper discharge, but when your child is possibly at a serious health risk, a lot of parents would've done what they did.