CLEVELAND, OH — A court approved the involuntary detainment of a woman in a psychiatric ward when hospital staff interpreted her prayers as signs of psychosis, a lawsuit alleges.
The woman, 56, is a Pentecostal Christian and a self-published spiritual author. The violation of her rights occurred last year during an act of spiritual devotion.
As part of her faith, she periodically abstains from food and consumes only water. This process, known as fasting, has been observed for thousands of years for a wide variety of spiritual and health reasons. A fast typically ranges from one full day up to a period of weeks. The Bible states that Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert.
On July 10th, 2013, Jane Doe was in the 15th day of a fasting period. As her lawsuit states, “while at a BP gas station in the city of Cleveland, Doe became confused and disoriented, and she contacted her mother for assistance.”
Doe went to the emergency room at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland. “Blood tests taken at the time of Doe’s admission revealed low sodium, potassium and electrolyte levels, indicative of water intoxication and hyponatremia,” Courthouse News reported. “Notwithstanding the results of Doe’s blood tests, Dr. Brar diagnosed Doe on admission as suffering from bipolar disorder with psychotic features.”
According to the complaint, Dr. Brar and other hospital staff refused to acknowledge the validity of her prolonged fasting and religious devotion. Her prayers, sometimes spoken aloud, were diagnosed as a signs of psychosis. Attempts to stamp out her “religious preoccupation” were made with the prescription of anti-psychotic drugs.
When Doe refused to take the psychotropic drugs, the Cuyahoga County Probate Court endorsed the involuntary commitment of the woman to a psych ward, where doctors could have full control over her body and medical choices.
Doe says in her lawsuit that detainment was allowed to continue even as the court had not received or reviewed her medical history records until weeks later in August 2013.
Cases of forcible medical detention have been receiving some much needed coverage recently. A teenage girl in Massachusetts named Justina Pelletier has endured over one year of forced drugging in state captivity after her parents were deemed to unsuitable guardians because they disagreed with the psychiatrists at Boston Children’s Hospital. Another detainee, 26-year-old Bret Bohn of Anchorage, has been turned into a permanent ward of the state because the government believes that federally subsidized psychiatrists care more about his well being than his own parents.
No one’s freedom is secure as long as patients can be turned into prisoners in such a cavalier manner.
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