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Page Hospital in Arizona Threatens Woman with Court-Ordered Cesarean

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Photo credit: Mary Forney, Lake Powell Chronicle

Three cheers to the Lake Powell Chronicle, the small newspaper that covered the story. Joy Szabo of Page, Arizona is being threatened with a court-ordered cesarean if she refuses a cesarean at Page Hospital, part of the Banner Health system.

Szabo, who already delivered vaginally after a previous cesarean at Page Hospital is being told that she must submit to an unnecessary or “elective” cesarean to remain a Banner Health patient through the perinatal period.

Page Hospital Chief Executive Officer Sandy Haryasz feel that VBAC is too risky for her small hospital and Joy’s labor will divert surgical resources away from other patients who need them, as labor could take “hours or days.”

“Page Hospital is, as many small communities are, challenged with resources,” said Chief Executive Officer Sandy Haryasz. “Page simply does not have the physician resources to respond to an emergency. Currently, we have two physicians who are delivering babies and a third physician will be joining us next week.

“Three physicians cannot provide the coverage recommended by ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology). The physicians must be immediately available because of the risks of a VBAC and we cannot provide that in Page. In addition, we cannot provide an anesthesiologist to be readily available because we only have one anesthesiologist.”

As a result, Joy is stuck traveling nearly five hours down to Phoenix, Arizona to a women’s care clinic or staying home and having an unassisted birth.

Joy’s husband, Jeff, told Mary Forney of the Lake Powell Chronicle that he feels his wife’s rights are being violated.

“I have talked with Banner Health officials who have said it’s just their policy,” Jeff said. “It’s a legal decision – not a medical decision. My wife’s plight is indicative of the health-care system in the U.S. They make money off of people’s suffering.

“Consequently, medical care is dictated by cost and insurance companies and not by what’s best for the patient.”

Joy has attended a board of directors meeting and has met twice with Haryasz. [Emphasis mine]

“I asked Sandy what would happen if I just showed up refusing a c-section and she said they would obtain a court order,” Joy said. “They don’t want to allow VBACs because she said they aren’t equipped for emergency c-sections, but if they can’t do emergency c-sections, they shouldn’t be having labor and delivery at all. That’s why women go to the hospital to have their babies – in case there is an emergency. 


Contact information for Banner Health’s Page Hospital:


Page Hospital

501 N. Navajo

P.O. Box 1447

Page, AZ 86040

(928) 645-2424


Peter S. Fine, President and CEO of Banner Health – peter.fine@bannerhealth.com

Online form to reach Mr. Fine here.


Bill Byron (PR) - Twitter account @BannerBill (hashtag #bannerhealthvbac)


Sandy Haryasz, CEO - sandy.haryasz@bannerhealth.com


Banner Health’s Facebook Fan Page


…and sometimes through your abdomen whether you like it or not.


Comments about Page Hospital’s unwritten VBAC policy change on The Unnecesarean Facebook Fan Page


Related reading:

Woman Ordered by State to Submit to Hospital Confinement, Cesarean

ACLU Files Amicus Brief in Support of Woman Hospitalized Against Will

Complaint Filed Against Obstetrician, Hospital for Unauthorized Sterilization During Cesarean

New Jersey Cesarean Refusal Case: The “System” is Schizophrenic

New Jersey VM Case - A Victory of Sorts (National Advocates for Pregnant Women)

Does a Laboring Woman Have Any Rights? (Birth Activist)

Refusal of Unnecesarean Leads to Loss of Custody: V’s Story

Superior Court of New Jersey Terminates Cesarean-Refusing Mom’s Parental Rights

When Unborn Rights Trump Maternal Rights

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Reader Comments (12)

So glad the paper printed this. It is so important for moms to have choices! Frankly it is true if the hospital isn't prepared for an emergency, it isn't prepared for an emergency and no babies should be born there??? Rather moms should have the right to choose how they want to birth. If they want to have a vaginal birth, they should have that choice!

October 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEnjoy Birth

I saw you tweet this and immediately shared it with people in my community. There are over 30 licensed midwives in AZ but unfortunately, laws prevent them from delivering babies from VBAC women. SO sad! Thank you for sharing this. I wish the best for her.

October 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJacy

Hi Jacy,

I just heard from someone about the AZ home VBAC ban. Well, the attended VBAC ban. Hopefully this shine a light on some of AZ's atrocious policies for women who have a scared uterus, even if they've already had a VBAC!! I find Arizona's "tough shit, deal with it" attitudes revolting.

October 1, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

Wow...there really aren't words. Nothing like calling on one ACOG policy (VBAC) while ignoring another (court-ordered cesarean). There really are no words for the hospital...just...no words. I'm really hoping it hits the fan on this one!

October 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPampered Mom

hop in your car and drive to canada!!! This would never happen here. Something truly needs to be done about the american health care system. Bureucrats should not have a right to get between you and your rights. This sickens me and others I know to the core. And I definately agree, that if they cannot handle an emergency situation, they should not have a labour and delivery department. what happens when a woman is perfectly able to give birth vaginally, and then the babies heart rate starts to drop while in the canal? then what? id like to know how they would handle that situation

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenfromcanada


That's the thing. If they're not equipped for a second time VBAC mom and that tiny, tiny potential for catastrophe, then they're just not prepared for anyone in labor (and THAT tiny, tiny potential for catastrophe). That's the hospital illusion, though, and it's well-marketed. I used to think that if there was an emergency that there was a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and an operating theater waiting for every laboring woman for every birth to perform a crash c-section in a matter of minutes. That could not be further from the truth. A woman and her baby WOULD, however, be closer to ped resuscitiation equipment esp. in a large hospital, which is great. Of course, often times the reason why babies need resuscitation is iatrogenic in nature but that's a topic for another day.

Thanks for you comment. Prepare for a large influx of Americans if health care isn't reformed. North America could become quite top-heavy.


October 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

Jill, I fired off an email to the administrators you mentioned, and Bcc'd you. It's a small thing, but if enough people raise their voices, the chorus will be impossible to ignore!

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLori

The bizarre thing about the hospital's position--as if it needed to be any more bizarre--is that, according to the research, a woman who has had a VBAC will almost always go on having uneventful VBACs. Problems with the scar or the need for a repeat cesarean occur much more rarely than in women who have no prior vaginal births. Another cesarean surgery, on the other hand, poses both the risk of any individual cesarean and the escalating risks of accumulating scars. In other words, planned vaginal birth is unequivocally Joy's best and safest option. And as far as not wanting to run the risk of an emergency during the VBAC, I assume this hospital also does not allow induction of labor or epidurals because ACOG's induction guidelines state that an obstetrician should be available in active labor in women being induced because of the risks, and epidurals have a 1 in 4000 chance of an emergent situation arising as a result. If they allow these procedures, Joy may wish to point out the, um, inconsistency in their policies.

October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHenci Goer

Henci, I have yet to find the real logic behind so-called defensive medicine.


October 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

I agree with the above comments. Unfortunately, I live in Arizona and certainly agree that some of the limitations here are atrocious. Many women come from the northern part of Arizona to have their babies with us so they can VBAC. I feel sorry that they have to travel so far to get their VBACs.

October 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany
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