Lawsuit says hospital reported new mothers to authorities over drug tests tripped by poppy seeds

In a new trial, human rights groups said a New York hospital reported two mothers to Children’s Aid after testing positive for drugs – but only because they had recently ate poppy seeds.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union and National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the two women – named Crystal H and Jane Doe – both gave birth at Garnet Health Medical Center in Middletown, New York. But instead of welcoming the women to the maternity ward, the hospital would have tested them both “without consent” and then, when the tests came back positive, reported them to the central state register of abuse and abuse. child abuse.

The reason, for Ms. H, was a poppy seed bagel. For Ms. Doe, it was a salad with poppy seed dressing. Heroin and other opiates are derived from poppy plants, the seeds of which – although perfectly legal and safe for consumption – can cause a false positive on drug urine tests.

“Garnet Health has turned the joy of becoming a new mom into an absolute nightmare,” Ms. H said in a statement. “Right after giving birth, the hospital staff did not allow me to breastfeed because of a false positive drug test result after eating a poppy seed bagel. These moments of bonding with my newborn are moments that I will never find again. “

Ms. Doe was also furious.

“All because I ate a salad with poppy seed dressing, Garnet Health treated me like an unfit mother, told me I was not allowed to breastfeed, repeatedly refused my requests for confirmation testing and made sure my name would appear on the New York State Central Child Abuse and Maltreatment Registry, ”she said.

Garnet Health said The independent he was unable to comment.

NYCLU and NAPW are now suing the hospital on behalf of the two women. They claim that Garnet discriminated against the two women on the basis of their gender and pregnancy and caused “invasive searches of their homes by local child protection authorities.”

But according to the lawsuit, it could have been even worse. Depending on the groups, positive drug tests can unfairly cost a parent their job, housing, or even access to their child.

“No parent should go through what Crystal and her husband went through,” said Gabriella Larios of NYCLU. “Non-consensual drug testing prioritizes stigma over science and is a relic of racist war on drugs myths. “

Emma Roth, a lawyer at NAPW, said she hoped the case would have wider ramifications.

“We are filing the complaint to shed light on Garnet Health’s discriminatory practices and hope other hospitals take note,” said Ms. Roth. “No new mother should face such traumatic and discriminatory treatment.”

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