the IT city, the I.T. Baby


TN legislation introduced to allow infants go blind

Blind Baby Ray
Blind Baby Ray

In Tennessee there’s a law that requires administering a prophylaxis to prevent ophthalmia neonatorum (warning, really sad picture on that link) or infections leading to blindness – it’s Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-5-202  (2015) if you want to check it out. Basically a “no baby left blind if we can help it” law.

If you’ve had a kid in TN, this is what they dropped in their eyes right after they were born.

Mild drop antibiotic, can prevent blindness, eyelid damage, bacteria, all sorts of wonderful diseases. Of course people have an objection to this.

There’s text in the original bill there that goes on to state that the doctor, midwife, etc who notices any swelling, inflammation, or other things that could permanently blind the child within the first two weeks of life, is required to report it to a licensed physician working and practicing medicine in the state. So, like there’s a requirement to do something to prevent blindness.

OK, relatively simple law – drop here, drop there, and if you notice anything wrong within two weeks you report it because the baby could go blind for the rest of it’s life. If you don’t, you face a class C misdemeanor.

But freedom of choice… there’s a draft of a bill before the house to let you opt out of a potentially eye-saving procedure for your newborn based on your extreme browsings of the comment sections of websites, or your deeply held beliefs, or your nutjob conspiracy theories or anything for that matter.

The parent may object to the treatment on the grounds they don’t like erythromycin or tetracycline or whatever the FDA has approved.

I’m not really feeling that this is something that should be up for freedom of choice unless there are documented cases of the eye drops causing issues, which is not mentioned in the text of the bill.

I consider the application of the eyedrops about on par with washing your hands after you poop. It’s something you do, believing that you don’t have poop residue on your hands doesn’t make it so.

I’m not equating childbirthing to poop. I’m struggling to come up with something that seems so obvious.

I also don’t think a family’s beliefs should allow a child to suffer a lifetime of being unable to see, which I’m afraid the bill is being pushed by the type of people who will say “it’s in god’s hands,” rather than take a kid back in for the eyedrops they should have received two weeks ago.

Seems to be being pushed by the Nashville Birth Network… you can google ’em, I’m not in-linking. It’s also is up for discussion today as it turns out.

Now sure, the baby going blind requires that they get one of the conditions and that the parents are terrible parents who put their baby’s health way behind their belief that they’re right, but it’s a possibility and it probably will happen.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.