Ever hear that consuming poppy seeds would cause a positive result on a drug test? Elizabeth Mort from Pennsylvania never thought twice about eating an "everything" bagel, poppy seeds included, before giving birth to her daughter, but maybe she should have. Her 3-day-old daughter was taken away from her in 2010 after officials thought Mort had consumed illegal drugs while pregnant.
According to Triblive.com, Mort, of New Castle, tested positive for opiates in the pre-delivery screening at Jameson Health Center. Because of her supposedly suspicious results, her baby was removed from her care for five days.
A county policy mandated newborns to be automatically separated from mothers who tested positive for the drug. More than three years later, a Lawrence County hospital and the county’s Children and Youth Services agency agreed to pay Mort $143,500 and to reform their policies to settle the “poppy seed” lawsuits.
"Elizabeth Mort never imagined that the last thing she ate before giving birth to her daughter -- a poppy seed bagel -- would lead to the loss of her newborn, but that is exactly what happened after the Jameson Health System failed to account for the possibility that her positive urine drug screen was due to her ingestion of poppy seeds," the lawsuit said.
A few days after Mort’s daughter Isabella was taken away she was returned when the welfare officials determined there was no evidence of Mort using illegal drugs.
The 24-year-old mother told Triblive.com, that at least one good thing came from her misfortune: “I am happy that the changes made by (the agency) and the hospital will prevent similar situations to others in the future.”
“As a result of this case, the county agreed to evaluate its procedures to ensure that families had an opportunity to discuss any reason for the test results that come out of Jameson,” Marie Jones, a lawyer with Lawrence County’s agency told the news site.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on the New Castle resident’s behalf, settled on Tuesday. "We hope that this case will encourage hospitals that routinely test pregnant women for drug use to reconsider that practice due to the harm that can result from false positives," ACLU lawyer Sara Rose told the BBC.