A Black Los Angeles couple says officers stormed their home alongside a social worker after they declined to let doctors perform a blood draw on their newborn daughter following a home birth.
Kayla Love and Khari Jones told NBC Los Angeles that circumstances surrounding the birth of their daughter turned hostile after they were rushed to the LA County USC Medical Center after the baby was born on June 27.
The couple wanted a private home birth for their daughter, Fari Love Jones, who arrived quickly.
A Pew Research study found last year that some Black women turned to home births amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But even prior to the pandemic, more Black women turned to midwives and home births amid continued health care disparities that have resulted in higher mortality rates for Black mothers when compared against other ethnic groups in the United States.
“I started feeling pain at 9 o’clock. She was here at 9:15. There was no time for a doula, midwife or anybody to get there,” Love said. What was supposed to be a home birth, turned into an emergency home birth and paramedics were called after Love experience complications.
The baby was healthy, paramedics said, but the family was rushed to the hospital. According to the couple, after they declined letting doctors perform a blood draw on Fari, things turned hostile.
“We said no. We prefer our child to be seen by a private physician. Don’t want your services. Reserve the right to deny,” Kayla said.
Doctors asked Love if she had hepatitis and a police officer questioned whether Love cared about her daughter, asking why she didn’t want to just get the questions over with.
According to California law, all babies born in the state must have the Newborn Screening Test completed, which includes a blood draw. The test can only be refused if it conflict’s with a family’s religious beliefs. Blood is taken from the heel of a baby between 12 and 48 hours of age, and sent to a state-approved lab to be tested for 80 genetic and metabolic disorders. Hepatitis can be efficiently transmitted from an infected mother to her child during birth, although chronic infection can be prevented if a baby is treated within 12 hours after birth.
Love decided to be discharged early from the hospital and went home with her family, but that night police and a social worker showed up at her door.
“Between 10-15 officers came up in our home, pointing guns at me while I’m holding the baby! Over a health and wellness check, what they claim to be,” said Jones. A concerned neighbor filmed the ordeal.
The LA County USC Medical Center expressed concern over the welfare of the child in a statement.
“When there are concerns about the health and welfare of a minor, our medical staff have obligations to report such matters to appropriate social welfare authorities so they can investigate the safety of the home environment,” the statement said.
The couple plans to pursue legal action and believe someone provided the police with keys to their apartment.
“This is predatory. They are just going for people they feel can be a victim. They didn’t know who they were dealing with. We are not letting this slide,” Love said.
On July 12, California state Sen. Sydney Kamlager posted on Twitter about the incident. “A young Black couple just had a baby at home. LAPD showed up, guns drawn on the father and his newborn baby!” Kamlager continued, “They were criminalized for giving birth. I am sick of us not being seen as autonomous beings. SICK!!!”
The LAPD responded to the allegations in a statement on July 15. According to police, officers showed up to meet with a social worker from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on June 27.
“The officers were asked by DCFS to respond to conduct a welfare check on a baby after the mother recently gave birth and left the hospital with the child against medical advice. After the officers met with the social worker at the location, they escorted the social worker to an apartment. A male adult inside the home refused to open the door and let them check on the welfare of the baby after being repeatedly asked to do so by the social worker, officers, and an LAPD supervisor at the scene,” the statement said.
“As the officers entered the apartment, they were concerned for their safety as they cleared the apartment for any threats and made sure the male inside was not armed. The male adult was briefly detained but none of the occupants were arrested. The baby and mother were not in the same room as the male adult and no weapons were ever pointed at the mother and child.”
The LAPD said it has initiated a personnel complaint to address the allegations raised by Kamlager.