Pregnant Woman Awarded '518 Dads' from Catholic Hospital That Refused Her Morning After Pill
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. -- Meredith Strong won a landmark parental support award from Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Hospital last week after they refused to give her a morning after pill when she discovered she was pregnant six months ago.
As part of the court order, the 518 staff members of the hospital are required to be "surrogate fathers" to her unborn child. Staff members must help Strong with paternal duties, such as prenatal care and education, in addition to financial responsiblities.
"It makes me happy that this baby is finally experiencing some justice in this world," said Strong, a dance major at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAH). Strong discovered she was pregnant after a one-time encounter with a classmate. "He hasnt' shown a lot of interest," she said of the father. "And I don't want to force our way into his life," Strong said.
Although Strong said she is pleased with the outcome of the case, she said she has been less than happy with some of the staff's commitment. "George Hannah, who is over the janitorial department, went with me to La Maze last night, and he just doesn't seem too committed to his role as father. I kept having to yell at him to pay attention and help me breathe. I hope he shows more interest at the La Leche meetings."
Hannah conceded that his relationship with Strong has been tense, so far. "She made me kind of nervous. I don't have a lot of experience with pregnant women," he said. "After the class, she made me take her by Sonic and buy her a Cherry Cheescake Shake. Then she yelled at me because they forgot the cherry and straw. I don't know, I think this is going to be a very difficult pregnancy for me."
Carol Pironia, a registered dietician at the hospital, has been assigned to help Strong with her diet. "This could be very rewarding for both of us, but she won't take my advice. She drinks six or seven Dr. Peppers a day, and nothing I say convinces her otherwise," Pironia said. "I tried to wrestle a six-pack away from her at Kroger, but people started staring, so I just gave in to her. Who wants to wrestle a pregnant woman? It's like I have been given all this responsibility as a dad, but no authority."
Dr. Peter Hesse, a resident at Our Lady of Angels, has been running late-night errands for Strong, getting her everything from mixed berry flavored Tums to salt and vinegar potato chips. "I've never been a father before," he said. "This is hard work. I really hope once the baby comes, she will baptize him and raise him Catholic. I don't though, I'm just the dad. I don't have a lot of say so in the matter."