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Women taking legal action for 'obstetric violence'

The term "obstetric violence" used to be associated with countries like Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela. However, some American women say that they have experienced it here in U.S. hospitals and that it turned what should one of the happiest days of their life into a traumatic experience from which they've yet to recover.

One of those women is suing an Alabama hospital as well as Tenet Health, which is its parent corporation, for what happened to her during the 2012 birth of her fourth child. According to the plaintiff, she chose a different hospital than she had used for her previous children because it advertised a less-medicalized approach to childbirth that allowed women to have their own "personalized birth plan." Hers included a birthing tub.

However, she says that nothing went as she was promised. She says that no one on duty when she arrived in labor appeared to know about her plan or any of the things she'd been promised. Childbirth advocates say that this "bait and switch" practice is becoming more common in medical facilities across the country.

The plaintiff in this case says that she was forced onto her back by nurses and that for some reason her baby's birth was physically prevented for six minutes. That action, she says, left her with a condition called pudendal neuralgia, which still causes her pain.

Her injuries weren't just physical, according to her suit. She says that she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and that she is still taking medication "both for pain and to ward off panic attacks."

This woman's story is not a unique one. A photo essay project called "Exposing the Silence" gives voice to 45 women who tell their stories of traumatic childbirth experiences at the hands of medical professionals.

They're not just speaking out. They're taking legal action. One New Jersey woman is suing her obstetrician, saying that the doctor bullied her into having a Cesarean section. A woman is California sued her doctor for forcing her to have an episiotomy.

We all put our health and our lives in the hands of medical professionals. However, women are particularly vulnerable during childbirth. They may have little if any say over what happens to them or their baby during the process. If you or a loved one have suffered physical or emotional injury during childbirth, it's worth determining what your legal options are.

Source: Yahoo! Parenting, "Woman Sues Hospital Over Traumatic Birth That 'Turned Our Family Life Upside Down'," Beth Greenfield, Nov. 19, 2015

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Breslin and Breslin, PA, Donald A. Caminiti, Esq., was one of six law firms selected by the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey to act as special counsel to represent it in its lawsuit against the tobacco industry to recover Medicaid and other health related costs incurred by the state resulting from tobacco related illnesses.