Couple Lose Foster Care Right Over Anti-Gay Stance

February 28, 2011
New york Times

Filed at 1:35 p.m. EST

LONDON (AP) — A British court has ruled that a Christian couple cannot care for foster children because they disapprove of homosexuality.

Judges at London’s Royal Courts of Justice ruled that laws protecting gays from discrimination take precedence over the couple’s religious beliefs.

Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65-years old, had previously fostered children in the 1990s, but what one social worker described as their “strong views” on homosexuality raised red flags with authorities in the English city of Derby when they were interviewed in 2007.

Eunice Johns said Monday that she was “extremely distressed” by the decision, which Christian groups also condemned.

But the judges ruled that Britain was “a secular state, not a theocracy.”

Panel Finds Canadian Gay Marriage Valid in Probate Case

Noeleen G. Walder February 25, 2011 – New York Law Journal

A state appeals court has cleared the way for a same-sex spouse to inherit the estate of his deceased partner.
The Appellate Division, First Department, held yesterday in Matter of the Estate of H. Kenneth Ranftle, 4214, that recognizing the marriage in Canada of H. Kenneth Ranftle and J. Craig Leiby, who was designated as Mr. Ranftle’s “surviving spouse and sole distributee,” did not violate public policy.
“[T]he Legislature’s failure to authorize same-sex couples to enter into marriage in New York or require recognition of validly performed out-of-state same-sex marriages, cannot serve as an expression of public policy for the State,” the unanimous panel wrote in an unsigned ruling.
The decision came the day after the Obama administration announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman for federal law purposes.
Susan L. Sommer, who represented Mr. Leiby, said the Ranftle decision is significant because it marks the first time the First Department has ruled on the validity of same-sex marriage.
The ruling also means that in questions of inheritance, “private parties and competing family members will make no headway” if they claim a same-sex marriage is invalid, said Ms. Sommer, who serves as legal director of constitutional litigation at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Messrs. Ranftle and Leiby married in Quebec in June 2008. Mr. Ranftle died five months later.
In his will, he gave each of his three brothers some $30,000. He left the remainder of his estate to Mr. Leiby, who was also designated executor.
Mr. Leiby subsequently filed a petition for probate, in which he named himself as the surviving spouse and only distributee of the estate.
After the probate was granted in December 2008, one of Mr. Ranftle brothers moved to vacate the order. In 2009, Manhattan Surrogate Kristen Booth Glen ruled that Mr. Ranftle’s three siblings were not entitled to notification of the probate proceedings under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act §1403(1)(a).
She cited the Feb. 1, 2008, decision of Martinez v. County of Monroe, 50 AD3d 189, in which the Fourth Department ordered Monroe County to extend health insurance coverage to the same-sex spouse of a female community college employee.
The Court of Appeals has ruled that same-sex marriage is not valid if contracted in New York. At the same time, however, the Court has held that the state should recognize marriages in foreign countries and other states where such unions are legal (NYLJ, Jan. 23, 2009).
Former Governor David A. Paterson also has instructed state agencies to recognize such marriages. However, the Legislature has not addressed the issue.

On appeal, Mr. Ranftle’s brother argued that Surrogate Glen’s decision “ignored the legislature’s clear definitions and directives.” He accused the surrogate of acting “according to her own political/personal predilections.”
“[R]ecognizing same sex marriages is a fundamental social change that cannot occur in the absence of legislative authority,” he wrote in his brief.
Mr. Leiby countered that the case called for “adherence to one of the most enduring principles of New York common law—that out-of-state marriages valid where entered are honored in New York even if those marriages could not have been obtained under our State’s laws.”
Under the marriage rule, New York has long recognized out-of-state marriages unless they expressly run afoul of state laws or are repugnant to public policy.
In an amicus brief backing Mr. Leiby, the state Attorney General’s Office said that in order to fall under the exception of the marriage recognition rule, the “Legislature must do more than prohibit the performance of the marriage in New York—it must also explicitly prohibit the recognition of the marriage validly performed in another State or Country.”
The First Department agreed.
“Same-sex marriage does not fall within either of the two exceptions to the marriage recognition rule,” the panel wrote. “In the absence of an express statutory prohibition legislative action or inaction does not qualify as an exception to the marriage recognition rule.”
Justices Angela M. Mazzarelli, James M. Catterson, Sallie Mazanet-Daniels and Nelson S. Roman sat on the panel, which heard arguments on Jan. 19.
Alexander M. Dudelson, a solo practitioner in Brooklyn, represented Mr. Ranftle’s brother, Richard.
“While I am pleased with the end result that New York will recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, I believe that this is a matter delegated to the Legislature rather than the Judiciary,” Mr. Dudelson wrote in an e-mail.
In addition to Ms. Sommer, Natalie M. Chin of Lambda Legal and Erica Bell of Weiss, Buell & Bell represented Mr. Leiby.

Parental Rights and Why Right-Wing States Are Hazardous to Your Health

Mombian – 2.24.2011

What a day yesterday, hmm? The Department of Justice says it won’t defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Not to mention that Maryland is edging closer to marriage equality (expect a final vote in the next day or two), and civil unions are now legal in Hawaii. (That is, the governor has signed the bill—it doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2012.)

Equality marches on, but it hasn’t been and still won’t be an easy path. When you need a break from all the DOMA pieces flying around the LGBT blogosphere today, I hope you’ll go read two pieces I’ve written for Keen News Service recently that cover parenting-specific issues. The first, “Same-sex parents’ rights: It’s not Hollywood, it’s war,” looks at a number of court cases around the country, and the second, “Warning: Anti-Gay States May be Hazardous to Your Health,” at some new research showing that same-sex couples with adopted children living in states with anti-gay adoption laws and attitudes had more mental health issues in their first year of parenthood than same-sex adoptive parents living in more accepting states. It may seem obvious to us, but I’m all for backing up the obvious with science when necessary.

Zach Wahls Speaks Up For His Moms

New Research Calls for a Revolution in Public Policy for LGBT Children and Youth

Dr. Caitlin Ryan and her team at the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University have generated a wealth of new data over the past decade on the impact of family acceptance and rejection on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, children and youth. The findings of this research are dramatic, clear, and, above all, surprisingly hopeful. They have profound implications for virtually every public policy issue affecting LGBT youth and their families, and call for a revolution in the way public and private agencies serve this population. This issue brief provides background information on the Family Acceptance Project and outlines how the project’s findings and a new family-based approach can help radically improve the way a wide range of social and public services respond to and serve LGBT youth. In particular, we discuss the project’s implications for the child welfare system, family courts, schools, and the juvenile justice system. Family Acceptance Project overview The Family Acceptance Project is a community research, intervention, education, and policy initiative that works to decrease major health and related risks for LGBT youth such as suicide, substance abuse, HIV, and homelessness. This is all done within the context of their families. Project staff use a research-based, culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, socially, and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBT children. There is an increasing amount of information about the risks and challenges facing LGB youth (although very little information about transgender youth), but we know little about their strengths and resiliency, including the strengths of families in supporting their children’s health and well-being. There have been no previous efforts of this type to understand how family reactions affect their LGBT children’s risk and resiliency, even though the family is the primary support for children and youth, and family involvement helps reduce adolescent risk for a wide range of negative outcomes. Little information was available prior to the project’s research to show how families respond to an adolescent’s coming out and how family and caregiver reactions affect adolescent health, mental health, and development for LGBT young people. Attention to family reactions is critical since youth are increasingly coming out at younger ages, which significantly increases risk for victimization and abuse in family, school, and community settings. But this change also provides opportunities for helping to support and strengthen families to provide a nurturing environment for their LGBT children. Family rejection and youth victimization have long-term consequences for their health and development, and affect families as well as the targeted individuals. These consequences include higher risks of dropping out of high school, abusing drugs and alcohol, or contemplating or attempting suicide. Early intervention can help families and caregivers build on strengths and use evidence-based materials to understand the impact of acceptance and rejection on their child’s well-being. Dr. Ryan’s research has identified more than 100 specific accepting and rejecting behaviors that families and caregivers use to express acceptance or rejection of their LGBT children. Dr. Ryan and her team have linked each of these behaviors—such as trying to change an ado- lescent’s gender expression or advocating for youth when they are discriminated against by others—with physical and mental health concerns in young adulthood, such as depression, illegal drug use, suicidality, access to social support, and risk for HIV. These family behaviors form the basis of the project’s new behavioral approach that empowers ethnically and reli- giously diverse families to decrease rejecting behaviors that put their LGBT children at risk and to increase supportive behaviors that protect against risk and promote their well-being. The project has four key components. They are: 1. Studying parents’, foster parents’, families’, and caregivers’ reactions and adjustment to an adolescent’s coming out and LGBT identity; and studying the experiences of LGBT youth and young adults and how specific family accepting and rejecting reactions affect their physical and mental health and well-being. 2. Developing training and assessment materials and family intervention strategies for health, mental health, and school-based providers; child welfare, juvenile justice, and family service workers; and community service providers on working with LGBT youth and families. 3. Creating research-based resources to strengthen diverse families to support LGBT children and adolescents. 4. Developing a new evidence-based family model of wellness, prevention, and care to improve health and mental health outcomes for LGBT adolescents and to promote their well-being The project is being carried out in collaboration with key community groups, providers, and organizations that work with youth in schools, health care settings, and families. LGBT youth in the child welfare system Perhaps more so than in any other area, the project’s research calls for dramatic changes in how child welfare workers respond to LGBT and gender-nonconforming children and youth whose families abuse and neglect them. The high rates at which LGBT children and youth experience family rejection are well-known and are increasingly documented—as are related high rates of homelessness, attempted suicide, and other associated health risks. Both LGBT groups and child welfare agencies (public and private) have reacted to this real- ity by creating alternative structures of support for these youth. The near-universal underlying assumption has been that family hostility and rejection are intractable. In essence, we have treated families as the enemy of LGBT children and youth, and have assumed this will continue to be true. As a result, there are very few programs or resources focused on helping diverse families accept, support, and better understand their LGBT children and youth. And few LGBT youth organizations or services provide oppor- tunities for youth and their families to socialize or interact. Our failure to see families as potential allies has a particularly negative impact in communities of color, where families play an especially important role. The project’s research calls for a dramatic reversal of this paradigm. For example, interven- tion work with diverse families indicates that even families who initially reject their children will modify their behavior when presented with objective information about the devastat- ing effect their actions will have on their children’s lives. These findings pave the way for new policies that have the potential to change the lives of future generations of LGBT youth by keeping them in their families, communities, and schools. To put Dr. Ryan and her team’s research and new family approach into practice will require a major effort to re-educate child welfare agencies and to reorient training of child welfare and early childhood professionals. Advocates and service providers need to know how to recognize and help parents decrease damaging rejecting behaviors, and how to effectively intervene with families to prevent irreparable harm to LGBT youth. They also need to learn how to help maintain LGBT children and youth in their homes by implementing family intervention strategies, rather than automatically removing these children and youth from the home when family conflict arises. Supporting the development of this new behavior-based family approach to care should be a high priority for child welfare agencies and the public and private entities that fund them. It will require creating new programs and resources for families, including those that are culturally competent and meet the needs of specific racial and ethnic communities. Suicide Rates of attempted suicide and other suicidal behavior have been consistently high among a proportion of LGB youth in community-based studies and, more recently, population- based research. School-based studies have reported distressingly higher rates of attempted suicide among LGB adolescents, compared with their heterosexual peers. Recent media reports have also reported on children and adolescents who were assumed to be gay and who experienced very high levels of peer victimization and took their own lives. However, even though suicide professionals and many providers have been aware of the high rates of attempted suicide among LGB adolescents for years, suicide prevention strategies to decrease suicidal behavior and risk among LGBT youth are extremely limited and lack out- come data to show their effectiveness in reducing suicidal behavior and attempts. At the same time, consensus has grown that social stigma, prejudice, and discrimination play an important role in increased suicide attempts among LGB populations. And systems-level problems require a systems-level intervention. Dr. Ryan’s culturally grounded behavioral approach operates at the family-systems level to help families, foster families, and caregivers decrease rejecting behaviors that put LGBT youth at risk and to increase supportive behav- iors that protect against risk. This approach promotes a supportive family environment to buffer LGBT youth from social prejudice and stigma and to teach parents and caregivers how to advocate for their LGBT children in families, schools, and communities. This research shows the dramatic impact of specific family rejecting behaviors (such as preventing an adolescent from having an LGBT friend, preventing them from participat- ing in LGBT activities, or excluding them from family events and activities because of their identity) that are associated with a nine-times-greater likelihood of attempted suicide. Moreover, family accepting behaviors (such as supporting a child’s gender expression and welcoming their child’s LGBT friends) help protect against suicidal behavior and other risks, and promote good self-esteem and overall health in young adulthood. One of the most important aspects of the project’s family intervention approach is that it can impact multiple negative outcomes—including suicide—with one kind of intervention at the family-systems level. Addressing harassment and bullying of LGBT youth in schools The national media and national LGBT organizations have focused an enormous amount of attention on the harassment and bullying of LGBT youth in schools, especially in the wake of recent news stories about young gay men taking their own lives who had suffered harassment (related to their known or perceived sexual orientation) at school. While the increased focus on this issue is a positive development, the project’s work provides a con- text that is essential if we are to truly understand and address this issue. It is impossible to understand school-based harassment apart from the critically important factor of whether an LGBT child has family support. Dr. Ryan and her team’s research shows that children who are able to turn to their families for support in dealing with harass- ment at school are at less risk of suicide, depression, and other negative outcomes. This research is clear that family support and intervention are critical—and yet existing approaches to dealing with school-based harassment generally omit families entirely. This is a serious omission and one that must be addressed immediately if we are to make genuine progress on this issue. For example, the project’s family approach teaches parents and other caregivers about the importance of advocating for their children in schools and shows practical ways to do so. We also need to design and implement school-driven inter- ventions that know how to work with the families of LGBT youth. The project also has a related body of research—the first of its kind—about the prevalence and impact of the harassment of gender-nonconforming LGBT youth in schools. The project’s research found that gender-nonconforming youth are at high risk of being targeted for harassment and bullying and that the negative impact of such harassment is lasting. Gender-nonconforming youth who are targeted in school continue to suffer significant negative effects into adulthood. This research has significant implications for school-based policies. It shows in particular the urgency of including gender identity and expression in nondiscrimination policies. It also allows us to broaden the conversation beyond moral and political frames, and show that adopting and implementing effective nondiscrimination policies is essential to protect the health and well-being of all students. LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system Research has shown that LGBT youth are more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system and that, once there, they are likely to experience serious mistreatment by other youth and by staff. Dr. Ryan and her team’s research has direct implications for every aspect of this issue. At the front end, it is critical that district attorneys, judges, and public defenders understand the negative impact of family rejection on LGBT youth. Dr. Ryan’s research has shown that not only does family rejection drive many LGBT youth from their homes but it also increases negative coping behaviors including illegal drug use and other unlawful behavior. But, perhaps more importantly, her research indicates that even modest changes in family rejecting behav- iors can decrease health risks even if the family is not moved to full acceptance. Understanding this reality will enable district attorneys, judges, and public defenders to address the root cause of the factors and behaviors that cause LGBT youth to end up in the juvenile justice system. Juvenile justice officials can draw on the project’s empirical evidence to recommend interventions that keep LGBT youth in their families instead of pushing for incarceration. The project’s research also provides a scientific basis for why juvenile justice facilities must adopt policies to ensure LGBT youth are supported and treated with respect. Thanks to decades of advocacy, LGBT and mainstream juvenile justice organizations largely agree on what constitute the best policies and practices in this area. And thanks to the project’s work, we can now show data supports these policies since LGBT youth who experience fewer family rejecting behaviors report better physical and mental health as young adults. Moreover, by engaging in specific supportive behaviors mea- sured by Dr. Ryan’s research that help reduce risk and promote the positive development of LGBT youth in custodial care, the state can benefit from substantially reduced costs required to care for a range of serious but preventable health problems in adulthood. This fact provides a powerful tool for advocates working to protect these youth through litigation, legislation, and general policy advocacy. A federal court already relied on the project’s research in a class-action lawsuit in Hawaii that successfully challenged the mistreatment of LGBT youth in Hawaii’s juvenile justice system. Advocates have also used Ryan’s work to support legislation protecting LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system in California. Recommendations and conclusion The Family Acceptance Project’s approach to improving the lives of LGBT youth and their families is data driven and is informed by the experiences of ethnically, economi- cally, and culturally diverse LGBT young people and their families, so we believe it is a hugely important tool for anyone who cares about improving the lives and life chances of our nation’s youth. As we discuss above, the project has important implications for a wide range of policies and programs that support and serve LGBT youth. Because of those implications, we urge policymakers to learn more about the project and think of ways that its approach, materials, and findings can be incorporated into existing pro- grams, services, and systems of care. Further, we believe there is a very compelling need to take the project to scale and greatly expand the number of families that have access to the kind of support Dr. Ryan and her colleagues have found to be so important to the well-being of LGBT youth. To date, Dr. Ryan and her team have designed, built, and implemented the project on a very limited budget. A modest investment of federal funds could have a disproportionately large impact on reducing some of our nation’s most expensive and seemingly intractable problems, such as homelessness, poor mental health, suicide, and the spread of HIV. Specifically, we recommend that Congress appropriate $3 million over three years to support the project and to help it expand its reach and impact. Families have been left out of the care giving and support equation for LGBT children and youth for far too long. The Family Acceptance Project’s work and research show why this is a costly mistake—in both human and financial terms.

For a copy of this memo, go to:

Rules on Cameras in Delivery Rooms Stir Passions

February 2, 2011
New york Times

CASCADE, Md. — When Laurie Shifler was expecting her eighth child, she was so upset about a local hospital’s new policy restricting photographs of births that she started an online petition. Hundreds of people, near and far, signed it, many expressing outrage that a hospital would prevent parents from recording such a momentous occasion, one that could never be recaptured.

The hospital, Meritus Medical Center, in nearby Hagerstown, bars all pictures and videos during birth — cellphones and cameras must be turned off — and allows picture-taking to begin only after the medical team has given permission.

“It’s about our rights,” Ms. Shifler, 36, said the other day at her home here in rural Maryland as she cradled her newborn daughter, Kaelii, in her arms and the rest of her brood roughhoused around her. Her husband, Michael, 37, a police officer, was able to take pictures 30 seconds after Kaelii’s birth last month, but Ms. Shifler is still fighting the hospital to change its policy.

“It’s my child,” she said. “Who can tell me I can take a picture or not take a picture of my own flesh and blood?”

For the hospital, the issue is not about “rights” but about the health and safety of the baby and mother and about protecting the privacy of the medical staff, many of whom have no desire to become instant celebrities on Facebook or YouTube.

Their concerns take place against a backdrop of medical malpractice suits in which video is playing a role. A typical case is one settled in 2007 that involved a baby born at the University of Illinois Hospital with shoulder complications and permanent injury; video taken by the father in the delivery room showed the nurse-midwife using excessive force and led to a payment to the family of $2.3 million.

Nationwide, photography and videography have been allowed in many delivery rooms for decades. But in recent years, technology creep has forced some hospitals to rethink their policies as they seek to balance safety and legal protection with the desire by some new mothers to document all aspects of their lives, including the entire birth process.

“Hospitals are struggling with it,” said Dr. Joanne Conroy, chief health care officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges. “Cellphones have exponentially increased the ability to take a picture — a high-quality picture — in a hospital setting.”

Mike Matray, editor of The Medical Liability Monitor, a newsletter based in Chicago, said the issue had been moving up on hospital agendas.

“I have certainly heard this issue discussed more often than I ever have previously,” he said. “And it’s certainly true that some risk managers in hospitals are advising doctors to stop allowing video in the delivery room.”

There are no national standards regarding cameras in the delivery room, so each hospital sets its own rules, creating a patchwork of policies. No national organization, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Hospital Association, keeps track of how many hospitals allow photography, so it is hard to tell whether restrictions are on the rise.

Many hospitals allow and even encourage recording because modern cameras, particularly those taking video, are so unobtrusive. But that same technology has introduced a wild card into a fraught scene that could shock a jury — with the mother screaming and staff responding (or not) to what may look like an emergency — all of which can be edited to misrepresent what actually took place.

The restrictions at Meritus went into effect in November, after the hospital began reviewing all of its policies because it was moving to a new facility and learned that six other hospitals in the region had barred photography and videography during births. Georgetown University Hospital in Washington has a similar policy.

“Deliveries are complicated,” Dr. William C. Hamilton, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Meritus, said in an interview at the hospital, adding that no one wanted to be distracted. “I’m not a baseball catcher with a mitt, just catching a baby,” he said.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston also bans cameras during births, said Dr. Erin E. Tracy, an obstetrician there who also teaches at Harvard Medical School.

“When we had people videotaping, it got to be a bit of a media circus,” Dr. Tracy said, adding that the banning of cameras evolved through general practice rather than a written policy. “I want to be 100 percent focused on the medical care, and in this litigious atmosphere, where ads are on TV every 30 seconds about suing, it makes physicians gun shy.”

But many other hospitals are taking the opposite approach and accommodating families (except during Caesareans or if complications arise). St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, which serves a large military population, even uses Skype to connect mothers with soldier-fathers overseas. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, began allowing photography and videography of births in 2008.

“Our hope is that the family will film it and it will lead to a closer bonding and a feeling of joy and success,” said Dr. Robert Barbieri, chairman of Brigham’s department of obstetrics and gynecology. He said the mother and clinicians must agree to be filmed and the photographer must use a hand-held camera with an internal light so equipment is not in the way.

“We’re trying to be as transparent as we can,” Dr. Barbieri said. “If something goes wrong, we try to explain immediately what happened. A video is not inconsistent with the goal of trying to be transparent.”

Dr. Elliott Main, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, which also allows filming of births, said, “The modern approach is not to ban cameras but to do drills and practice.”

“Where you get into trouble is where people panic or don’t know what to do next and have blank looks on their faces,” he said. Videotaping simulated births, he said, can help the medical staff adjust their behavior.

Obstetricians are sued more often than doctors in other specialties and pay among the highest insurance premiums. They can also be more wary than other doctors, whose every move is not recorded.

Video is a particular worry because it picks up actions that a still camera might not catch and the sound can make a situation seem worse than it is.

“The first consideration for a trial attorney is how this plays to a jury,” said Paul Myre, a lawyer in St. Louis who has defended doctors and hospitals in malpractice cases for 25 years.

In one case in which he was involved, a man on the jury fainted when a simple instructional video of a birth was shown. “Just a normal childbirth can look fairly traumatic to a lay person,” Mr. Myre said. He said he defended a doctor in another case in which the video showed that his client “had done everything right,” but the jury still felt “the child needed to be taken care of.”

In a case in which the audio was crucial, mentioned in a 1998 article in the Journal of Family Practice, a father’s recording picked up complaints by nurses that a doctor would not get off the phone to attend to a delivery. It also picked up warning signals from the fetal monitor. Another time, a father taped a complicated delivery and then pretended to be congratulating the staff while recording their responses about the complications, which were later used as evidence against them.

Matthew Dudley, the lawyer who won the $2.3 million settlement in Illinois, said that without the video, he probably would not have won the settlement. He also said that without video, some trial lawyers were less willing to take a case, adding to the reasons for hospitals to ban it. At Meritus, Dr. Hamilton said no particular incident had prompted the new restrictions, adding that the threat of lawsuits was not new.

“I openly admit to my co-workers that I practice defensive medicine,” he said. But he said he “takes offense” that “now I have to be videoed to prove that I’m providing good care.”

Aggravating the situation at Meritus, which prides itself on its new family-friendly obstetrics unit, were statements from officials last month that families had to wait five minutes before taking pictures. Dr. Hamilton said that those statements resulted from “miscommunications” and that “there is no five-minute rule.”

Brittany Saunders, 17, who was sitting upright in her hospital bed at Meritus recently with her newborn daughter, Meliyah, said her mother was able to take video within a couple of minutes of birth. (Ms. Saunders had not seen it yet because her mother “ran off with the phone too quick.”)

Still, Ms. Saunders was disappointed not to have video of the actual birth because her friends had posted their deliveries online and she wanted to do the same.

But some mothers who think they want the whole experience recorded change their minds. Robin Dobbe, 27, was angry when she first learned about the Meritus policy (“It’s my body”), and she signed the petition.

But once she was giving birth to her son, Charlie, she wanted her mother by her side, not taking pictures. Her mother was allowed to start shooting within 30 seconds.

“I look like a complete mess,” Ms. Dobbe said. “I wasn’t decent for Facebook.”

She said she now supported the policy, was glad the staff was focused on the task at hand and that she would never forget the experience.

Andrew Keh contributed reporting from New York.