“#Brooklyn pol pushes ‘pre-term labor’ bill in honor of her late baby boy”
In an emotional nine-minute speech delivered to the state Assembly before members voted on the proposed legislation last week, Rodneyse Bichotte fought back tears as she touched on her horrific experience of going into “pre-term labor’’ in 2016 — and being sent home from NewYork Presbyterian/Columbia Hospital with what she described as no recourse.
Bichotte was 5¹/₂-months pregnant and 3¹/₂- centimeters dialated at the time, she said.
The then-43-year-old Democratic assemblywoman was admitted to Wycoff Hospital within a day later — and a week after that, gave birth to a son, Jonah. He lived just two hours.
The pending law that the assemblywoman helped create — called the “Jonah Bichotte Cowan Act’’ — requires hospitals to admit mothers in “pre-term labor” for monitoring instead of releasing them or refusing treatment.
“In memory of Jonah Bichotte Cowan — I am thinking of you every day, and I thank you for giving me the strength to do this for all women so they don’t have to go through what I went through and you went through,” Bichotte said in her speech.
The proposal sailed through both branches of the legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
While pushing for the change, Bichotte issued a letter to constituents about her ordeal and the legislation. The letter included a picture of her holding a blue heart-shaped urn with doves inscribed containing Jonah’s ashes.
Bichotte said in her assembly speech that when she went to NewYork Presbyterian, she was diagnosed with “incompetent cervix,’’ which is when the cervix opens too early during pregnancy, leading to a high-risk, sometimes fatal premature birth.
“They gave me two options: either to terminate my pregnancy or to leave,” Bichotte said in her assembly speech.
As she explained in her letter to her constituents, “Knowing the risks associated with this condition, the doctors at NewYork Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Hospital, denied treatment and discharged me, citing a ‘hospital policy’ which claimed they could not intervene before 23 weeks because insurance would not cover my preterm labor care.
“I was a week away from receiving the care we desperately needed.”
She added in her speech, “Because of the hospital policy, there was no room for me if I wish not to terminate my child. … I didn’t want to leave. Why? Because my unborn son and I were in an incredible, fatal and high-risk situation.
“No pregnant women should be turned away from a hospital during pre-term labor,” Bichotte said.
Bichotte said that after leaving the hospital, she consulted with doctors she knew and was admitted within a day at Wyckoff hospital in Brooklyn. After seven days there, she delivered her Jonah, who died two hours later.
Bichotte rattled off statistics about the higher infant-mortality rates and higher fatality rates for pregnant black women in her speech.
She said the proposed law was intended for all women, but particularly black women and black infants who lost their lives.
Bichotte, during an interview with The Post Sunday, said she sought care with NewYork Presbyterian in northern Manhattan, far from her residence and district in central Brooklyn, because she was high-risk. The Manhattan facility specializes in treating high-risk pregnancies.
Bichotte, 47, said that initially, she was supposed to deliver twins and one of them immediately died.
The assemblywoman, who is also chairwoman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said she didn’t file a negligence suit against NewYork Presbyterian because she was grieving during that period.
She said Jonah’s law is her way of addressing the problem.
NewYork Presbyterian did not respond to a request for comment.
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