The Placenta Blog

Potential Court Case


April 17th, 2007

A friend and colleague of mine, Anne Swanson, teaches hypnobirthing courses here in Las Vegas. She was laboring peacefully at home when her midwife discovered the baby had turned and was presenting as a double footling breech. Anne continued to labor, but the surges grew longer, and the baby’s heartrate started to drop with each one. They transferred to Sunrise Hospital and delivered Anne’s baby girl via cesarean section on Thursday, April 12. As it turns out, the baby’s cord was wrapped around her neck, causing the drop in heartrate.

Anne was the first client of mine to deliver at Sunrise. When she asked to take her placenta, the hospital refused, although it had no written policy stating that she could not take her placenta and could not give a valid reason as to their refusal. The week previous, on April 5, I had a client deliver for the first time at Southern Hills Hospital, which is a sister hospital to Sunrise. The nurses there were very receptive to what I do, and even invited me to come in and leave brochures and educational materials in the nurse’s lounge to help educate the staff as to the benefits of placenta, since this is certain to become more popular as word spreads. After the warm reception at that hospital, I got in touch with some of the nurses who were instrumental in getting that client’s placenta released. They gave me some advice as to how to approach Sunrise, who to talk to, which forms their client had filled out to get the placenta released, and were really very helpful.

The staff at Sunrise had the exact opposite reaction. They were appalled by what I was doing, and by Anne’s intended use for her placenta. They had meetings with their lawyers and Risk Management as to how to address the situation. I called on a former client of Anne’s, and a current client of mine, who happens to be a Nevada State Deputy* Attorney General, and enlisted her help. We were on the phone all day trying to get the placenta released since we were approaching the 48-hour mark, and the placenta would soon be useless for encapsulation purposes and of no benefit to Anne during her postpartum recovery. The day ended with the hospital lawyer telling Anne that they would not release her placenta without a court order, due to infectious control issues, and agreed to store it and place it in the freezer while we determined our response.

The Deputy* Attorney General has found a colleague who may be able to take on the case pro bono. He is waiting to speak to Anne and myself before presenting the case to his partners. Hopefully this will all happen very quickly and we can present our case in court. The hospital will present their concerns, the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) will present theirs, and then it will be our chance to present all of the research, the testimonials and the community support for this practice. I have Anne’s permission to rally the troops in whatever means necessary, including internet promotion, press releases, media, the works. What’s exciting about the case is that we will be setting precedent. Nevada does not have an appellate court level, so any case that is appealed higher than Clark County goes straight to the State Supreme Court. Anne Swanson is the best possible candidate for this case, since she has been networked into the natural birth community for nearly four years and has over 350 clients who will hopefully be willing to appear on her behalf, not to mention the numerous professional associates who are equally passionate about the natural birth and health issue that this presents. So we should be able to mount a considerable level of grassroots community support.

I will be doing much of the legwork, since Anne is recovering from childbirth and surgery, has a newborn baby and older daughter at home, and needs to enjoy her babymoon in as much peace as possible. It is very likely that I will be called as a witness, so I am hard at work gathering every bit of research and information to support our side as possible. I have also been instructed to contact the leading researcher into placentophagy, Dr. Mark Kristal from the University at Buffalo in New York to see if he will travel here to give expert testimony, or at least write an affadavit for myself and the information I present on PlacentaBenefits.info.

Beyond the issue with Anne, the hospital reported me to the Southern Nevada Health District, so I have had multiple conversations with state-licensed drug officials to discuss what I am doing and how I am doing it. The official stance is that if I prepare the placentas in the clients’ home as a service, they do not have jurisdiction over me, and I am exempted from their licensing requirements. I am trying to get that in writing as I type this. The city of North Las Vegas has denied me a business license yet again, this time citing the need for written verification from SNHD as to the legitimacy of what I’m doing. 

SNHD noticed on PlacentaBenefits.info that I was promoting my first seminar on the benefits of placenta at a local herbal store, Herbally Grounded. They surreptitiously called the store to get more information on myself and the seminar, and apparently were down there in person, although they did not identify themselves as SNHD officials.  The owners of Herbally Grounded have had many unpleasant experiences with the health department just to get their store open (SNHD delayed the opening of her store for months with various expensive and inane requirements), and understandably do not want to become involved in any sort of controversy.  So my first seminar, which was to be Thursday, April 19, has been cancelled. I have another one scheduled at a different location next month, but I am now nervous to promote it via PBi.

I intend to continue promoting placenta encapsulation for postpartum women. I believe this is a woman’s rights issue, a First Amendment issue, and that a woman is entitled to do with her placenta as she wishes. Our government does not get to decide, once again, what we do with our bodies; how we should manage our own health and wellness; and deny women of something that is incredibly beneficial during their postpartum recovery.

A lawyer friend said that with the environment here in Las Vegas - which is conservative, close-minded, with a highly-regulated medical establishment - that we will not be doing battle, but will be taking on the full war. So be it!
This is incredibly important for all women who come behind.

Thank you, and please fan the flame of your activist spirit. We need your support!

* Erroneously referred to the State Attorney General in original post

6 Responses to “Potential Court Case”

  1. Kachina

    I love your blog. I am sorry to hear of yours and Anne’s struggles. I send you my love and support!

  2. Lori Jordan

    I feel so sad that you and Anne are facing these troubles. When I had to have my breech baby by c/s two years ago, the opportunity to have a peaceful, normal birth was forever taken from me. Having control over the fate of MY placenta, which was encapsulated, helped me to make peace with the surgical experience of birth. It’s complicated, butI believe I avoided PPD as a result. In addition, I did take some of the placenta pills, and I suffered no ill effects. Best of luck to you and to Anne. I wish I could have attended the protest, but I was stuck in a deposition all day. Let me know if there is anything I can do to further your cause.

  3. Cousin Jenelle

    I’m so sorry to hear of the difficulties you’re facing, Jodi! And it’s all coming at you from so many directions ~ "when it rains, it pours"! Please accept my support from afar ~ I checked into air fare from MSP and it’s more than I can afford, though I would LOVE to be at the rally in person on Mon to support your cause. You’re right on the mark that the govt need not involve themselves in what is our right to choose for our own bodies! You’re a strong woman ~ I have no doubt that you’ll get through this battle and grow from it! Chin up my dear!

  4. Vonnie

    I think it is outrageous for the government to feel they needto have a say in everything, when it should be up to the person involved. A friend of mine got to take home her gall stones after surgery to keep in a jar. I strongly agree that it should be a woman’s choice to do as she wishes with her placenta, especially since it’s been proven to strengthen her body, mind and emotions after child birth. I wish someone would have been (and won) this battle when I had my children.

  5. The Placenta Blog » Blog Archive » Help urgently needed!

    [...] lawyer we are working with on this case has said that we need an MD who is willing to testify that releasing a placenta to the mother does [...]

  6. The Placenta Blog » Blog Archive » Review-Journal article

    [...] article on the situation regarding Anne’s placenta came out in the Review-Journal today, in the Sunday paper. I am so grateful to see that Ms. Annette [...]

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