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Woman at Center of Dispute Gives Birth : Medicine: She delivers an apparently healthy boy. Her religious beliefs conflicted with medical recommendations to have a Cesarean section.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A pregnant woman who battled with doctors and Cook County officials because her religious convictions conflicted with medical recommendations to undergo a Cesarean section delivered an apparently healthy baby boy Wednesday evening.

Tabita Bricci, 22, and her husband, Mircea, 23, had fought the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to deliver the child by natural childbirth, after county officials attempted to force the mother to deliver her baby prematurely by C-section on the grounds that insufficient oxygen to the fetus was virtually certain to result in severe mental retardation or death during birth.

After a successful natural birth, they named their son Callian. The name means “you did something good for me,” the father said.

Mircea, a personal banker who came to the United States from Romania 10 years ago, said his family had no anger toward those who tried to force his wife to avoid natural childbirth. But the born-again Pentecostal Christian said their religious beliefs were more important to them than the advice of the doctor.

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“It was the termination of labor before term based on some test. I understood what the doctor tried to convey to me. I understood the consequences,” Mircea explained during a press conference at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where his son was born. “We understood all that and we appreciate it but we said ‘no’ because we believed God would deliver us a healthy baby through a normal delivery.”

Dr. Marilyn Frederiksen, the Briccis’ obstetrician, said there are no medical tests that can yet determine if there is any brain damage. The possibility of a C-section was never completely ruled out as an option, she said, but “we were blessed with a short second stage of labor,” and because it lasted less than an hour, the baby tolerated the natural delivery.

At birth, the baby weighed only 4 pounds 12 ounces. It remains in a special care nursing unit but “is doing very well. It just needs sugar water through the veins right now,” the doctor said.

The confrontation began in November when a doctor at Chicago’s St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center determined that not enough oxygen was reaching the fetus, resulting in intrauterine growth retardation. The doctor strongly urged the Briccis to consent to a Cesarean operation or to have labor induced. The couple refused, and again after the doctor concluded that inducing labor was no longer an option. The hospital then took the case to the Cook County state’s attorney for guidance.

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The state’s attorney’s office, together with the public guardian of Cook County, began legal action Dec. 9. A trial court rejected requiring Bricci to undergo a Cesarean operation. After the Illinois Appellate Court concurred, the state’s attorney office dropped the case, while the public guardian’s office unsuccessfully petitioned both the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case immediately. The U.S. Supreme Court could take up the case at a later date.

Lee Ann Lowder, first assistant at the public guardian’s office, said that although the birth was normal, there may still be complications. “It could be six months or it could take a couple of years to determine any developmental delays.” The public guardian’s office has represented more than 31,000 children, many abused or born addicted to illegal drugs. “I don’t see a difference between baby Bricci and a coke baby. Both are viable fetuses. . . . We wouldn’t allow her to sacrifice or abuse a child after it is born. Two minutes before in the womb, is there a difference?”

Mircea summed up his family’s decision: “I am not against medical advice. I’m not against hospitals. I’m not against anyone who tries to help me medically. I just draw a line where I think God surpasses any other human means of resolving the matter.”

Mircea is considering only positive thoughts about his son. “He is a miracle baby,” said the confident and joyous father.


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