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Chicago-Area Woman Fired by Doctor for Refusing Unnecesarean

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NBC Chicago aired a story on November 12, 2009, about Jennifer Conneely, a Chicago-area woman who was fired by her obstetrician, Paul K. Rosenberg, at 40 weeks pregnant for refusing an unnecessary repeat cesarean.


In Jen’s birth story, which is posted on the ICAN of DuPage web site, Jen wrote that she and her husband were surprised to find out that Jen was pregnant with a sixth baby just five months after having an emergency cesarean at 34 weeks due to placenta previa.

Jen started her prenatal care with the same midwives who had provided her prenatal care for her previous three births and found out at her 20 week ultrasound that she had another low lying placenta and placenta was anterior:

What did this mean? [The midwife] said, let’s pray that this placenta moves up b/c a c-section isn’t the best option for an anterior placenta. Rescan would be scheduled at 33 weeks, and around 30 weeks, found out I had gestational diabetes. Oh great, something else to worry about. It felt like one thing after another. So 33 weeks rolls around and the placenta moved up to 2cm from a 1.5cm. Same exact situation that happened with my last. I was on high alert, freaking out thinking the same situation was going to happen. I went back to the doctor who had performed my c-section, which I thought were great. I was told by the nurse in the ER that “this doc wasn’t c-section happy” at the time.

Jen transferred care to an obstetric practice, Female Healthcare Associates, at 33 weeks and scheduled a c-section for August 28, 2009, which would have been just over a week before her estimated due date of September 6, 2009. However, things changed after her 33 week ultrasound appointment.

Well, at my 33 week ultrasound (I was having level 2 u/s at Hinsdale with the high-risk OBs) the baby’s head was measuring 4 weeks smaller than the body so one of the docs from my new practice wanted me to get an ultrasound quick in the office just to make sure everything was okay. Well the tech found that my fluid levels were at a 5.4, oh great another thing to add on to my list of problems. While she was doing the u/s, since I was now 36 weeks, I asked her if my placenta had moved any, and her response was, “ah it still looks a little low.” What kind of answer is that? So the doc now wants to check me for himself, says the levels are at an 8, but now I need to come in for NSTs twice a week and also fluid checks.

By 37 weeks, Jen’s placenta had moved and she got the go ahead from one of the doctors for a VBAC… with one caveat. The clock was ticking and Jen would need to give birth by her due date. Jen felt this was an unfair and unfounded expectation, and began calling different OB-GYN practices in an attempt to transfer care, but no one would accept her.

At 38 weeks, Jen was one centimeter dilated and 50 percent effaced and what she called the “scare tactics” began. By August 31, 2009, Jen was feeling contractions and had a very good feeling about going into labor before the cesarean appointment on September 4. Looking for support, Jen went online and met Gina from the DuPage chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).

On Gina’s personal blog, she described how she advocated for Jen.

I immediately got on the phone with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.  I wrote everyone from ICAN I could think of.  I talked to the Illinois ACLU.  I had half the reproductive justice community invested in her case.  I did everything I could to find help - everything I could do to get attention to her case so we could find her an emergency provider, and hopefully some peace of mind.

After all my hard work, I got a text message from this mother the morning after I left my job, announcing her beautiful baby girl born by VBAC.  It was one of the most triumphant feelings of my life.  I could place this up there next to my own VBAC.

And this mother described me as her “angel” in her VBAC story.  I was just glad I could help.  But admittedly, I was so very, very proud to be thought of that way.

Jen told her doctor that a c-section would not be necessary.

I told that doc that I wasn’t having that c-section, it’s ridiculous. I’m going to go into labor any day and I want my “trial of labor.” If I end in a c-section, at least I gave myself the chance to see. I didn’t want it in the back of my mind forever eating at me, thinking “I wonder if.” So the doc let me reschedule for September 9th, but they were booked, so I felt like I got lucky and I was scheduled for the 11th now. My EDD was the 12th. And I thought for sure it was going to happen before then.

However, something was afoot at the practice and Jen got five phone calls from one of the doctors on September 4, 2009.

On that Friday, I still don’t know exactly why, my doc called me 5 times. I’m sure the doc over her probably told her she made a mistake and they needed me to have a c-section, but I never answered. She called me the next day (Saturday) and finally again that Tuesday the 8th after Labor Day. I finally called her back and one of the other docs got on the phone. The whole time they told me no induction, but now she was offering induction if I could get to the hospital in an hour. Are you kidding me? I have 5 kids and not a lot of family or friend help. So I said no.

Jen’s sister-in-law was already scheduled to take time off from work on September 11, Jen’s third “elective” c-section appointment. Like most families, Jen found herself unable to find childcare in a moment’s notice in a non-emergent situation like this. Her older children were in school and coordinating everything to report for an induction would not have been a possibility even if Jen had consented to the risky procedure of inducing a woman with a scarred uterus.

The doctor responded by telling Jen that her baby was going to die if she waited any longer.

Jen was livid.

I snapped!!! I raised my voice very loudly and said “Don’t you dare use your scare tactics on me!” And I did know I had an appointment that night to see this particular doc so I apologized, and wanted to cancel my appointment b/c I knew they really wanted to slice me open and I looked at my husband who heard our conversation and said, “Watch, they will try and get me into the hospital tonight.” I went in anyway, and she was all smiles. I do my NST, everything is great, and I’m great. I was having my usual contractions. Nothing different from my previous NST. They were all over the place nothing regular. I’m 3cm, 80% -1 station. She declares me in labor and I need to report to the hospital immediately.

Jen called her on what she found to be predictable scare tactics.

I look at her and said, are you kidding me! I’ve gone into spontaneous labor 3 times and I can assure you that I’m not in labor. She said what if when I’m driving the baby’s head starts crowning? I said, “I wish it was that easy.” She is getting really ticked off. She is trying her hardest for me to agree to go in and said my doc will come in just for me if I go now. How did she know I was going to be in labor when I came into the office?” After 15 minutes going back and forth, I refuse and I left. She caught me coming out of the bathroom and told me she wanted to check my fluid levels. Red flag. I’m thinking oh great, now they got me. She checks and she measured a 9. The baby is great.

The doctor began to plead. Wrote Jen, “She walks me out she looks right at me and almost begs me to go to the hospital. Seemed really weird at the time.”

As Jen suspected, the doctor was lying and she was indeed not in labor.

Two days later on September 10, Jen called and canceled her c-section appointment for the following day. On the 11th, Jen called the doctors’ office first thing in the morning to set up an NST and was told a doctor would call her back and was again encouraged to schedule another c-section. Expecting a return call all day, Jen was shocked to arrive home and find and envelope on her doorstep that contained the letter pictured in the NBC Chicago news segment.


The text of the letter reads:




Jennifer Conneely

Glen Ellyn, IL 60137


Dear Jennifer,

I find it necessary to inform you that we are withdrawing from your professional care due to your failure to comply with medical advice. You have cancelled your scheduled c-section multiple times. We recommend that you place yourself under the care of another physician without delay.

With you written authorization we will make your records available to your new physician.

I trust that you understand that my purpose in writing this letter is out of concern for the health and well-being of your unborn child.



Paul K. Rosenberg


Wrote Jen, “Why didn’t they tell me that on the phone that Friday morning since I’m due the next day and now I have no doc? No warning, no referral, nothing.”

Jen called her midwives, who told her she was welcome to do her non-stress tests in their office. One midwife calls her on Saturday, September 12, with recommendations for different hospitals. Northwestern told her that the residents would attend her birth if she presented in labor.

The next day, Jen was still having “tons of contractions” and went to the clinic at Northwestern, where she said the resident and the nurses were shocked that I was dropped because she refused an unnecessary cesarean. They agreed that Jen did not need surgery.

On Monday, September 14, Jen was told by a doctor at the Northwestern clinic that by law she was bound to the other practice for thirty days.

…[S]he advises that I call them to receive care, but if I go into labor to come to Northwestern for a “VTOL” (vaginal trial of labor). I can’t go back to those docs. She then said that I should try and call the physicians referrals and maybe one of the practices will take me. I try 2 and both say no. I’m crying again, freaking out crying. My husband goes online looking for VBAC friendly docs and finds a message board with a name. He calls, talks to the right person, and 15 minutes later a doc calls us back Dr. Brian Foley. I tell him everything and he didn’t even hesitate and accepts me as a patient. My superman. I’m crying so hard on the phone thanking him so much for taking me. We set up an appointment for that Friday and he said I shouldn’t go past this weekend that we’ll set up an induction for Saturday if I don’t go into labor. He said if I go into labor before than just call them like I’m a patient and he’ll let all the docs know what’s going on. I’m happy but still worried.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, Jen awakened to contractions, which were coming every eight to nine minutes. She called her labor support team and her doctor’s office, who told her to come in.

After laboring at the hospital for awhile, Jen was at five centimeters and began asking about an epidural.

My response, I know I can do it I’ve done it 3 times before without drugs, but I don’t want to. I’m tired, and I don’t have the fight in me. I put up a fight of my life these past few weeks with these docs and I’m tired. The Anesthesiologist comes to answer my questions, hey Oprah is on. I say hold on I have a contraction coming, OMG, I’m screaming and crying (which I didn’t do for my other ones) I look up and said in an “Exorcist” voice, “GET ME AN EPIDURAL!” All of a sudden another contraction and the urge to push, “I HAVE TO PUSH.” The bed gets broken down, the doc has me move down and the baby’s head is crowning. The whole time, I’m thinking, I just want the epidural. I actually always thought that I would feel like I can’t push b/c of all the fear of uterine rupture, but that thought didn’t even cross my mind. So one more contraction, here’s the head, and I had a little trouble with her shoulders and out she came at 9:18 a.m.

A fast labor, an easy recovery and rave reviews for Dr. Chen… Jen got a healthy birth and did not succumb to the deceitful, faux-science scare tactics from Dr. Rosenberg’s office.

I went from 5cm to her completely out in 10 minutes from what I was told. It was so fast and furious and amazing. I was so happy. Dr. Chen was awesome. My placenta came right out without pitocin (which is normal for nurses to give you a shot of it to get the placenta out) and I was up to the bathroom by myself in an hour. Only two stitches. I felt great! I did it. I knew I could. It was the best delivery of all my girls and the fastest recovery time (I’m two weeks postpartum right now). We were made to have children and we should have the option on how we birth them. I hope my story can help just one woman out there. We can’t sit here and let these docs control our given right to birth!!

Jen, ICAN of DuPage, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Drs. Foley and Chen… Congratulations to all of you for using the best evidence available to make health care decisions and advocate for availability of services that were appropriate for this mother and baby.





ICAN of DuPage

The Feminist Breeder


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Reader Comments (9)

Sadly, I am not at all surprised. My first OB pulled the same crap on me, only he wasn't trying to get me to have a c-section, he wanted me to change hospitals so he wouldn't have to drive in traffic. I called every single doctor on my insurance plan, and specifically chose this one because I wanted to have my baby in the hospital where my step-son was born, because my husband and his first wife had a good experience there. When I was about six months pregnant, my doctor started telling me I should change hospitals, because the one I wanted was too far from his house. I went there one time, when I thought I was in premature labor (first time mom, LOL), and it was FILTHY (juice spilled on the bedside table, trash on the couch) and after they got me in a room and hooked me up to their monitors, the staff just disappeared for hours No one came to check on me, and then suddenly they came in and told me to go home. One morning shortly after that, my doctor called and asked me if I was switching. He actually tried to scare me about what might happen to my baby if I was in the hospital and gave birth, but he wasn't there because he was stuck in traffic!! I told him I wasn't switching, and he told me to find a new doctor. Just like that, over the phone, with me seven months pregnant. Not only that, but the doctor he referred me to, she wouldn't take me because I was so far along.

I guess I was lucky because I ended up with the doctor who delivered my step-son. Then again, he cut me open for no damned reason.

November 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Potter

I'm glad you posted this -- I was wondering what "the rest of the story" was, after seeing the video. It wouldn't surprise me if her doctors claimed that she dissolved the relationship by refusing to follow their advice -- I've heard something along those lines about another case.

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Absolutely AWESOME recount of the story. You do such a great job of putting all this into a readable format, and carrying the message through. Thank you!

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Feminist Breeder

Agreed with TFB! Exemplary write-up, as per all the dang time.

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDou-la-la

I hope this mother files formal complaints and considers suing for abandonment. Unbelievable.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMorag

great post as usual .. thanks .. you just gave me a few more ideas to play with

November 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterforex robot

Having just moved I found an OB to see in the new town. She acknowledged she was not familiar with my genetic disorder (Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility) and might be more comfortable with me seeing someone else. I told her that was fine, I may be looking elsewhere anyway. I just needed an ultrasound to check the placement of the placenta (EDH slightly increases the risk of plecenta previa but other than a need to check plecenta and cervix EDH pregnancies are considered low risk, the disorder is NOT considered a reason for a pregnancy to be considered high risk). Then, the (business) day before my next appointment with her (a standard prenatal check) I received a letter stating I had been risked out of the practice because I was "high risk due to Ehlers-Danlos". Not only did I miss my prenatal appointment because they didn't want to see me effective immediately (even though the letter said 30 day notice) but, in the state I'm in, I can't be seen by a nurse midwife (my strong preference) if an OB has declared me high risk. I told her I didn't mind if she didn't want to continue care with me, but to classify me as high risk without any medical reason to do so made me furious and seems reprehensible to me. The doctor DIDN'T EVEN WAIT for the ultrasound results (placenta high, cervix good). When I called her and asked her to change her diagnosis of high risk due to the now received ultrasound she not only refused by told me "you will have a great deal of difficulty finding anyone who wants to care for you if you insist on being so adament about how you wish to be treated". She has made a real mess of things. We are trying to find an OB to get a second opinion and rescind the dreaded 'high risk' lable, but no one at the hospital she is associated with will see me, and the only OB who will see me at the other major hospital/OB clinic in the area is the 1 high risk OB. I'm only 23 weeks pregnant, but this has made a huge mess for me. I can't imagine having to deal with it when you are near term (although I very well might find myself in that exact situation since I WILL refuse any unnecessary intervention)

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica


I just read about EDH yesterday for the first time ever. What a strange coincidence. I don't even remember where I read about it.

I'm sorry to hear you're getting the defensive medicine runaround. Her comment: "you will have a great deal of difficulty finding anyone who wants to care for you if you insist on being so adament about how you wish to be treated" doesn't even make sense. How are you wanting to be treated that's so unusual? How is that not just a nasty thing to say to a woman who's nearly six motnhs pregnant?

Do you have the chance to seek concurrent prenatal care with a home birth midwife once you find a suitable OB?

Feel free to e-mail (unnecesarean at gmail) if you need any help?


November 19, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

A story of the of Health care

Today I am disabled more than ever before because of the issue of massive failure to diagnose, which I had reported to the State Board of Health within Illinois, and also to the Hospital involved within my failed health care. And why I am against policies to allow hospitals that have caused massive injuries to occur.

My case is one of thousands within Illinois and then outside this area as well, where patients feeling that they are coming into a hospital emergency will receive excellent quality of care and then instead are within a monstrous system of administrative policies and procedures that are not interested in patient rights.

My case began in 2003-04, when I was on Medicaid, out of work, and very sick from the amounts of stress I had endured over the years.

I was a single mother of three, who had struggle as many other single mothers with attempting to make everything work for their families.

My children were in school, and at the time I was residing within a hotel in Clarendon Hills Illinois because my health was failing due to the stress. I was on Medicaid, and up until that time I had my blood pressure under control, and I was doing what I could to keep my children with the help with my on my kids who devoted all to helping financially.

I had a great doctor for a while, but then out of the blue, because I was on Medicaid the system changed over night. The system began to lower the standards of medication for patients and then it seemed that the hospitals (some) themselves began to follow the new administration guidelines which included lowering the quality of health care for those who were on state run public assisted programs.

The only drug I was on was Norvas, it was working and I had control of my blood pressure for years. Then within the new policies I was informed when attempting to renew my prescription that this drug was not on the available listing of Medicaid approved drugs. My doctor then charged my medication to other drug. Which I had trusted was within the same quality of Norvas but later found that this drug had side effects which then caused a series of health care problems that had plagued me from that time on.

I was within my hotel room on Ogden Avenue, it was winter time, I ate a piece of pizza, and had taken this medication. Yes I was in the media, that time I was on my weekly television program one I had developed from nothing. I launched this program to help people realize not only entertainment but facts of real news which many of the networks did not pick up.

After eating one bite my felt cold and clammy, I was dizzy, could not see well, and began to pass out, I called 911 as I began to open the patio door, it was sub zero temps at that time, and then I fell into the snow outside my rooms window.

The paramedics arrived and I told them of the medication I was taking, they told me that my blood pressure was 56/78 as I was being rushed to Hinsdale Hospital ER.

I had no doctor on staff within this hospital, so I was assigned one, I was placed in a room, and I was still in a very dangerous state. My mother who had been a nurse years before told me to keep moving, I knew that movement helps to elevate your blood pressure so I got up and walked round the area near my bed and then got my pressure up enough so I could leave the hospital.

I continued to take the new medication, not knowing the side effects, I was not told by anyone to discontinue it.

So I began to couch up blood, my blood pressure began to go up and down, I was light headed, but Medicaid was the one calling the shots on what medication could be used for it’s patients and Norvas was too expensive for the poor.

Then I began not only to cough but I had issues where my blood pressure began to rise uncontrollable. I got so sick again I ended up again in the ER of Hinsdale Hospital and this time I was admitted.

At first I was in the ER, and again assigned a doctor, and then moved into a room, the first room was a standard room I was in there for a day and then moved into a former TB ward all the way down in a area where there was no nursing station, and no other patients. At the time the hospital was not filled up, I was placed within a room with a very elderly woman.

She was crying out all hours of the night, and no one came! I called the nursing station and no one answered not by phone and or by the buzzer. I was in this room for at least three days, they did not change the IV in my arm which to me looked infected. Then the elder patient in the bed on the other side of the room, fall out of her bed onto the floor. I rang and rang called on the phone, and then it was so bad, she had began to urinate on herself and defecate on herself. Again no one came, so I had to balance myself and hold on to the wall and then wall all the way down the hall to another area were the patients were to get help.

Once in the room they picked up this woman placed her back in the bed, and no one came to clean up the messed on the floor! The odor was more than I could stand, again no one came in to check and it was clean that this elderly white woman and I were casted away from the normal patients being cared for within this hospital. Again I had to go down the hallway and complain again, I called the hospital patient care administrators while there and once out they did nothing.

In addition I was informed within this hospital that I had congestive heart failure. I was then given medication for this condition. I took them nothing knowing what I will tell you within this report.

I was given a very strong water pill for this condition and other meds and was told to keep taking the new medication that I was given before for my blood pressure.

It was the worse experience in my life, at this time I was living at 933 South Quincy Street in Hinsdale Illinois. My treatment was at best worse than what an animal in a zoo would receive. I called in complaints to the Illinois State Board of Hospitals, I contacted the Hospitals Administrator and they could care less. I sought out an attorney no one would handle my case.

Then after coming out of this hospital I ended back in there again, and got more treatment for the alleged congestive heart failure. I got worse and worse, ended up in many other hospitals all within the concluded heart failure diagnosis.

I started swelling in my face, hands and feet, had issues breathing, and then I was on a constant run from one ER to another. My previous doctor would not see be because Medicaid did not paid a previous claim, I had no doctor with my precondition. Then in 2005 I went to another Hospital and had a heart specialist examine me and then I was told I never had congestive heart failure. By this time the EKG was showing abnormal readings, I had been given sulfa based medication which I also had allergic to which I told Hinsdale and all the other hospitals. And again with the issue of failure to diagnosis I have been rendered totally disabled. At one point my face was balloon sized I had to go in for medication for an allergic reaction. Again I took this matter up with attorneys and others within state mandated health care reporting systems nothing. You see I had a specialist determine I was not in heart failure and therefore I was giving medication that began to cause the total shutdown of my body. Now I may have the said failure. So the issue is not insurance it’s the issue of quality health care. In addition I found out later from other hospitals that many of my conditions were due from drug related side effects and being given medication for conditions I did not have! The bleed and cough came from the side effect of the blood pressure medication which did not do anything to lower my pressure but instead my pressure increase to levels of 230/138 I have swelling in my feet and legs again I had reactions to the sulfa based water bills given to me for a disease I did not have. I was at one point told i had diabetes and given a machine for it, again within the charted medical records I had nothing like that within the recorded levels.

Within Illinois there have been many Medicaid billing fraud cases one which shutdown Edge water Hospital where patients were given treatment they did not need and many ended up dead from, those patients some were Hispanic sued and had a investigation launched within the US Attorney’s office. The complaints I had issued in writing and on the phone went on mute ears. In fact one hospital I was in the nursing staff while I was in the bathroom went through my purse! I saw them and I was told that was hospital policies. I complained and then after being hospitalized for 4 days they told me to leave with a temperature of 104 then they refused care, I was out! So they left me in the room, at this point I had urinated and defecated on myself the nursing staff was told not to treat me so I laid in that bed for two days in this condition. I reported this one, and my full hospital record of my stay vanished. In fact when I asked to get a copy they gave my private medical information to someone who I knew who had no rights to this information under the Hippa act. I called and reported it and could get no one to handle my case.

So what I am saying is why are we after setting up paying for this type of treatment, we need real health care, not insuring those who are involved within victimization of patients. I am still seeking out a attorney for my medical Malpractice issues you see I was rendered into a health crisis because of the lack of patient care and the issue of not having another that can champion the cases of patients going into this type of nightmare.

Please I need a attorney who can help me on this case because of this I have a continuously health crisis please call me asap thanks 1-630-666-8528 thanks

February 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDAnne Burley
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