The XX Factor

Your Bagel or Your Baby

Imagine, or remember, those two blissful days in the hospital with your newborn, your partner, your friends and family pouring their love and congratulations on the three of you. Mom and baby sailing through all their post-birth medical exams, a beaming Dad answering the contraband cell that never stops ringing, joyously repeating all the same answers again and again. Imagine, or remember, that first blessed day back home, your fridge full of donated delicacies, your home made suddenly, wonderfully, strange with all its new baby accoutrements, new smells, new sounds, new Grandma coaxing you to nap so she can have the baby all to herself. Now imagine waking up early on that fourth day, just starting to find your post-baby groove, to find two cops, a social worker, and a court order on your doorstep, all amped to  take your tiny baby away from you for no reason that you could possibly understand. Ever.

That’s what happened to a couple in Pennsylvania : Having been subjected to a urine drug test without her knowledge , Mom was never informed that she had tested positive for opiates. Her opiate of choice? An “everything” bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts. Damn those poppy seeds! It was funny when it happened to Elaine on Seinfeld because it was so ridiculous, too ridiculous to ever happen in real life, right? In real life, such a result would be double-checked and investigated, the parents observed for sketchy behavior and their records checked, the baby’s clean drug test and good health factored in. They cudda just checked Snopes , but nah! Let’s just snatch the kid already. So they did.

Thank God for the ACLU; the lawsuit’s already been filed. Here’s hoping they get bazillions. Perhaps those so invested in the war on drugs will find better ways to use their resources if their budgets are held responsible for fiascoes like this one.

Read the piece to find out how truly outrageous this was (my two faves: Jameson Hospital “report[s] them to the state for testing positive if they exceed an exceptionally low threshold that is far more stringent than the one the federal government applies to its own workers,” and “In fact, the lawsuit states that one caseworker admitted [social services] made a mistake by removing Mort’s daughter from her home, explaining that they had experienced problems with Jameson Hospital in the past.”).

Stories like this one make me want to stage a one-woman riot. They also remind me of why I was so struck by Gloria Steinem’s inflammatory use of the phrase, viz the anti-abortion lobby, ” nationalizing women’s bodies.” It’s just stayed with me. Now I know why.