Tina Marie Carlsen, the woman who was arrested and jailed on $500,000 bond for trying to protect her 9-month-old from a surgical procedure she feared might kill him has been released. Although a judge has ruled that she can’t have contact with her son, Riley, without the permission of state child protection authorities, her attorney, Jim Lobsenz, is negotiating with the state in hopes of reuniting Carlsen with her son and is hoping that eventually the charges against her will be reduced to “custodial interference” or dismissed altogether.
As I’ve read the ongoing articles and reports, I have been aghast at the treatment this woman has received. As it turns out, the child was never in imminent danger; a doctor wanted him to have a procedure which would allow him to undergo kidney dialysis for genetic kidney problems IF he should ever need to. This same doctor — a woman nephrologist — not once, not twice, but three times called child protective services to report that the Carlsens were not obeying her orders. The first two child welfare workers rejected the doctor’s complaints as unfounded, and the second one, according to Carlsen’s mother, high-fived her and told her she was doing a great job. Tina Carlsen has two relatives with the same condition her son has. One of them never was treated for it and is an adult and is just fine; the other had a kidney transplant and regrets it. She had a very sound basis for rejecting this procedure. She had sought and was administering naturopathic and other alternative care and Riley was never ill.
Additionally, she is breastfeeding. Her child was ripped from her arms, supposedly to protect his health, meaning he was immediately switched to effing formula. At nine months and given the kind of mothering it sounds as though Carlsen provided, I would guess she breastfed him responsively and that much of his nutrition came from her breastmilk. To deprive him of this breastmilk, if his health was fragile to begin with, could itself have imperilled his health. Not only was he deprived of his mother’s milk and presumably placed on formula and other food, it took five full days for authorities to bring Carlsen’s milk — which she expressed while she was in jail — to the hospital for her child.
Here is a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article about Carlsen’s release, and here is an article about the outcry against the way Carlsen was treated. A UW law school professor is quoted saying what I’ve been thinking but have neglected to include in my earlier post, that in Washington parents are not necessarily legally obligated to follow doctors’ orders for their children. Immunizations, for example, are voluntary. Parents may assert personal or philosophical exemptions to vaccinizing their children and the state cannot force them to do so, even though the doctors may believe this is parental negligence.
Today’s Seattle Times published an editorial in support of Tina Marie Carlsen urging that the kidnapping charges against her be dropped. I sent the following letter to the editor of the Times several days ago:
I knew something was amiss when that Amber Alert was issued last week for a child who was “gravely ill,” with no other information provided, and who had supposedly been “kidnapped” by his mother. My hunches were confirmed when Tina Marie Carlsen was held on a $500,000 bond for second-degree kidnapping– for what? For daring to disagree with child protection authorities and doctors. For trying to protect her child. News reports confirm that this is a child who is “not in imminent danger” and that, according to her husband and relatives, Tina Marie Carlsen is a good mother who was just trying to protect her child from what she believed to be an unnecessary and potentially lethal surgical procedure.
The only thing I can come up with is that child protection officials figured this might be a handy way to divert public attention away from their horrifyingly abysmal record of actually protecting children, exemplified by the recent arrest of the guy on the East Side who molested and raped his foster and adoptive daughters for years and years despite 29 reports of suspected abuse to those same officials, who couldn’t seem to come up with any reason to intervene until young lives were basically destroyed.
I think the arrest of Tina Marie Carlsen is preposterous, the $500,000 bond is outrageous, and issuing an Amber Alert was an abuse of the Amber Alert process and an insult to all parents whose children have actually been abducted. This woman was no kidnapper and her child was not an abused child. This was just a mother, attempting to protect her child from what appears to me to be traditional medical practitioners with tunnel vision, bureaucrats run amok, and everybody but the mother interested not in the child, but in protecting their own backsides. I can only hope the appropriate heads will ultimately roll over this. It is a fiasco.
My letter has not been published so far, but I’m betting the local papers received many such letters.
A website, Help Baby Riley, has been set up by supporters of the Carlsens for anyone who would like to donate funds to help with legal fees and other expenses associated with Carlsen’s arrest. I hope lots of people donate. And I am so disheartened knowing it was a woman doctor who abused her authority and power to the point that not only was a baby ripped from the arms and care of loving parents and family and deprived of his mother’s milk, a woman who was guilty of nothing but attempting to protect her son was criminalized and jailed. The doctor responsible for this was an absolute Tool of the Patriarchy, all caps, and I do not mind saying so, as were all responsible for the damage to this family.