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Lawyer Claims Pregnant Woman Denied Care In Nationality Row

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

A 21-year-old pregnant woman in her third trimester claims that she was denied antenatal care at a public clinic because she did not have a Haitian passport, according to a letter from her attorney obtained by The Tribune.

The young mother – who is expect to give birth to her fourth child this week – alleged that she was denied treatment on two separate occasions at the Fleming Street clinic, and did not receive care until she was personally assisted by the head nurse on her third attempt.

The incident echoes the concerns of human rights activists, who warned that the implementation of the government’s new immigration policy unfairly discriminated against the country’s large population of undocumented persons of Haitian descent.

The 21-year-old said she was born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents, her father is a permanent resident and her mother had a work permit. Her certificate of identity expired in 2007, but her mother did not renew it. She filed for a Bahamian passport on her 19th birthday, she said.

“They denied the certificate of identity travel document I had even though I used it at the same clinic when I had my three year old,” said the young mother, who asked The Tribune to withhold her identity.

“I feel very bad, all of this happening because of this new policy. This foolishness never used to happen – they could have just gotten my file from the hospital.”

She added: “I have proof to show that I was born here, when they go to check my files, the same document I presented is the same one I used at the clinic three years ago.”

Her attorney Fred Smith, QC, alleged that the mother was first denied antenatal care at the clinic on January 14, 2015 when she presented her identity card, but was told she needed a Haitian passport. She was also refused treatment in “early February” because she did not have a Haitian passport, Mr Smith’s letter said.

The mother went to the clinic again on March 23 because she was not feeling well, and was refused again. However, the head nurse agreed to personally assist the woman, then eight months pregnant, and as a result she was able to receive her first ultrasound scan.

Although she helped the pregnant woman, the head nurse allegedly explained that the mother was not entitled to receive care at the clinic without proper identification in the form of a Haitian passport, Mr Smith said.

The mother was again denied treatment on March 26, but eventually received care after staff checked for the head nurse’s signature on the card she provided to the mother.

Mr Smith of Callenders & Co, said the denial of access to antenatal services was

“illegal, irrational, discriminatory and unconstitutional” given that public health services were required by law to be made available to all.

In a letter to the clinic administrator, and Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez, officials were asked to continue to provide care to the mother until a determination was made on her intended application for a judicial review of the clinic’s policy.

“The baby is due to be born on April 23, 2015,” the letter read.

“Clearly she (the mother) requires and is entitled to antenatal, natal, postnatal and pregnancy related care. Her new baby will also require services to which it will be entitled.”

It continued: “Whilst the intervention of the head nurse is currently allowing (the mother) to receive treatment, it appears that the illegal policy is still in place. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs and (the mother) clearly needs more security that her access to medical treatment will not be withdrawn at any moment on the pretext of this policy.”

Calls placed to Community Health Administrator Charlene Bain and Public Hospitals Authority Managing Director Herbert Brown were not returned up to press time.

Last November, the government introduced a stricter immigration policy that, among other things, requires every non-Bahamian to have a passport of their nationality.

Comments

birdiestrachan 4 years, 6 months ago

Twenty one years old and she is having her fourth child. How interesting . She is aware of the document that are required of her, She and her lawyer Fred Smith should be about the business of obtaining those documents. I may be wrong . But her next complaint will be ":I am a single mother and social service is not giving me enough assistance"

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 6 months ago

The Woman is a burden to society there is no wonder we have to pay VAT

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arussell 4 years, 6 months ago

I strongly agree!! Bahamian women are not having all these kids its's only Haitians women or Haitian Bahamians. I bet if we was to check her records she's already receiving assistance from social service.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

Bahamian men are having just as much or more, and perhaps with the Haitian women you're blaming.

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Emac 4 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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arussell 4 years, 6 months ago

Her actions alone says alot about her why on Gods green earth would a 21 year old be on her fourth child. She had all the sense to obtain a lawyer but not smart enough to use a condom after the first child. silly rabbit!!!

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Cas0072 4 years, 6 months ago

Just wow. It sounds like right around the age when she should have been gathering her documents and making her application for citizenship, which is prior to her 19th birthday, she was much too busy being pregnant with baby number 3 and all. Talk about foolishness!

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asiseeit 4 years, 6 months ago

Sterilize her. No sane person who can not support themselves should be breeding at such a rate. Even the Pope has said not to breed like rabbits. I say you get ONE child if you can not afford that child and need assistance from the state you get no more. Why should I have to pay for YOUR lack of responsibility?

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

The ambulance chaser strikes again with yet another baseless case. No immigration policy prohibited her from medical care, a misinformed nurse did, but in the end she was provided service. That should be the end of story. But this serial baby maker and her four kids are not bleeding the Bahamas enough for this unscrupulous clown with a law degree. His fake concern for upholding the law is laughable! This woman has acknowledged her late application, he should then also consider her to be "illegal, irrational and unconstitutional" but instead he says she is entitled to even more from this country. What an idiot!

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SP 4 years, 6 months ago

She is 21 years old and expect to give birth to her fourth child this week? So she began dropping babies like roaches when she was 15 years old.... OMG! Another case of Haitians trying to breed Bahamians into oblivion.

We need to take a page out of Dominican Republics playbook and make every dam Haitian entering the country post Independence 1973 and their offspring leave the Bahamas.

These people breed like rats and are quickly destroying our country.

Haitians have worn out their welcome. Please get these dam disgusting people OUT OF OUR COUNTRY.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

"roaches" is a very derogatory term. I take offense to such speech.

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

She said the woman is having babies "like roaches", meaning very quickly. She did not call the woman a roach!

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

And I said it's derogatory , I didn't say she called her a roach.

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

It's simply a figure of speech. It's not derogatory.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

Stop mentioning Dominicans shit seriously. Can't enforce laws retroactively.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

This stresses the importance of just going in and getting your passport. Another hurdle that the Haitian Immigration needs to see, The Bahamas is the best place for situations like this but what about elsewhere for their people on this same struggle. Children of Haitian parents have right to that identity, yet their application makes it impossible for them to acquire the documents of their citizenship.

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Tarzan 4 years, 6 months ago

I find it hard to believe the level of animus and bigotry displayed in these comments. This woman was born in the Bahamas where she has lived her entire life. Please stop all this nonsense. She cannot get a Haitian Passport under these circumstances. It is a proven fact that Haiti will not give her a passport. She is entitled under law to Bahamian residency but the government bureaucracy has failed to provide her with the documentation to which she is legally entitled. This is a classic Catch 22 set up by Fred and his pals, that renders innocents such as this woman, stateless, with no rights anywhere.

There is nothing in this news article to suggest that she is a burden on society. The only facts quoted are that she is being denied essential medical services merely because of her race. Sound familiar? Sound like racism? Sound like inhuman discrimination? You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

Proven fact that Haiti will not give her a passport , which is the 1st problem.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

If her father was a permanent resident at the time she was born , then perhaps she could have attained one through him from then as well (if married to the mother). If he didn't file for her , what must government do? Know that you exist and come find you? The mother is Haitian therefore government would have assumed she registered her birth with the embassy.

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Cas0072 4 years, 6 months ago

The fact that she is going once again to a government clinic for services leading up to and including the birth of baby number four, by age 21 no less, screams that she is indeed a burden to society.

If her parents are indeed legal residents, there is absolutely no reason why they should not have gotten this straightened out prior to her 18th birthday. The blame is on them, her, and the Haitian Embassy that is refusing to give her a passport, if that is indeed the case. As the child of two born Haitian nationals she is not stateless since she is entitled to the nationality of her parents.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

If you're talking about the residency stamps that they are supposed to get in their passport, that's amnesty not law.

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

Proven how? Her parents were born in Haiti, they should have reported her birth to the Haitian embassy 21 years ago. Haiti recognizes such children as Haitian. However, at some point she must have obtained those impossible documents because was able to apply at 19, past the deadline. How is any of this the government's fault? Did the government officially advise her to forgo birth control and to sit on her application until the deadline had passed?

What about the Catch 22 setup by the Haitian community where they have multiple kids they cannot afford, sponsor other illegals to come...and now the Bahamas is faced with the task of documenting, proving healthcare, educating, possibly social services benefits and fighting lawsuits from a population that grew 75% in 30 years. They have overwhelmed this country's systems for years, then complain about the backlog they created.

Also, she was seeking public healthcare, for her fourth child from a clinic that she routinely receives maternity care, that says a lot about her financial capacity to take care of her four kids.

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jackbnimble 4 years, 6 months ago

She cannot get a "Haitian" passport because she has been here "all her life" yet she was born to "Haitian" parents whose constitution says otherwise. You need to stop YOUR madness! The bigotry starts with the sense of entitlement to anything when you haven't gone about it the right way.

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm confused, I think we both agree on this issue. She should sue the Haitian government because if she is denied a passport, they are the ones being unconstitutional.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

Seem like the daddy didn't give a F. She filed , so she went about it the right way. Her parent's were here legally so it's not like she was supposed to be in Haiti after birth until reaching adulthood. Why does it take 3 years to naturalize if she's entitled just the same as a foreign wife who only has to wait a day and may have 10 underage children? Now there's 4 kids without anything in either country, and what about when they have symptoms? Fill up the emergency room with trivial issues instead? Don't expect Haiti to take the grandkids born and raised in another country, they're not Jews. She's been working legally, her kids were documented , by 20 years it's our fault. Besides, she was born here therefore expected to live here with both parents , and is entitled to be registered since she applied.

Not sure why insurance can't be enough to be seen.

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Cas0072 4 years, 6 months ago

Actually, it has been about two years according to the article. How is it the fault of Bahamians after 20 years when she just applied 2 years ago and her parents ignored this duty for the first 18 years of her life? The reason for the backlog is obvious. The entire system and process is overwhelmed. If she had a Haitian passport I am sure the naturalization process would be much smoother. She and her parents are to blame for her predicament. The claims of her parents being legal are suspect, as it makes no sense why they would not have started this process much sooner.

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

She clearly did not have insurance, otherwise there would be no issue. She pays her insurance company, they pay for her services. The End.

Stop making excuses for this woman's reckless behaviour. She missed the deadline to apply because she was busy making babies. The law states she could apply between 18 & 19, she determined her own citizenship fate when she applied at 19. Her application should be sitting with the pile of rejects who are avoiding detection. The best thing she can do for her four kids is to ensure she takes their belongers permit with her to Haiti.

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 6 months ago

Is the lawyer sure that prenatal care is public health? This is a check up. Preventative care isn't emergency. I'm positive the law is that she can't be denied during labor or any escalating potentially life threatening issue. Also , any paying customer , legal or not can get treated. Many of them also get free health coverage. The facts shouldn't be misconstrued.

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Voltaire 4 years, 6 months ago

The kind of bigotry on display here is indeed disgusting. A woman's decision to have a child or many children has absolutely zero bearing on her rights. It does not give people the right to mistreat her. One issue has nothing to do with the other. This is what we always do in this country, whenever a police or immigration officer, or anyone in authority abuses someone, we look for what is wrong with the victim... "She ax for that.." etc. It is a cruel, wrongheaded, backwards way of thinking.

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My2cents 4 years, 6 months ago

Where is the bigotry? Where is the so called rights violations?

I hear mostly disbelief and anger at this entitled woman who has utilized this clinic's services three times with no issue. She was inconvenienced, at the very most, once! And now she is suing the system that provided her free maternity and delivery care of four children because she was inconvenienced. Not only are others picking up the tab for her right to breed, now they may be picking up the tab for the inconvenience she "suffered". She is not the victim here. The public, including her four kids are.

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unitee 4 years, 6 months ago

What makes no sense to me is she claims she was denied treatment, when in fact she was able to see the doctor and receive the service she came for. Haitians have been playing victims from the gate. They have this sense of entitlement that we, the Bahamas owe them something... It's useless arguing about this because if concerned Bahamians challenge the current situation of this increase in migrants, particularly Haitians, then we are considered bigots, racists, prejudice. The woman said she was denied access, all of a sudden she is being mistreated. You will begin to see many Haitians taking this very same stance because Mr. Smith has empowered them to believe they can sue for any and everything. His modus operandi is to see all immigration policies amended to ensure Haitians have full rights in this country, whether right or wrong.

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