Refusing bed rest a crime

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-06-2008
Refusing bed rest a crime
28
Tue, 01-12-2010 - 7:55pm

While this is not about abortion it is slightly related as to the whole fetal rights movement being a slippery slope towards treating all pregnant woman as second class citizens.

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/is-refusing-bed-rest-a-crime/

Arguments are under way today in the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee, Fla., in the case of Samantha Burton, who was confined to her bed by a judge earlier this year because she was at risk for a miscarriage.

Burton was in her 25th week of pregnancy in March 2009 when she started showing signs of miscarrying. Her doctor advised her to go on bed rest, possibly for as long as 15 weeks, but she told him that she had two toddlers to care for and a job to keep. She planned on getting a second opinion, but the doctor alerted the state, which then asked the Circuit Court of Leon County to step in.

She was ordered to stay in bed at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and to undergo “any and all medical treatments” her doctor, acting in the interests of the fetus, decided were necessary. Burton asked to switch hospitals and the request was denied by the court, which said “such a change is not in the child’s best interest at this time.” After three days of hospitalization, she had to undergo an emergency C-section and the fetus was found dead.

Burton’s pro bono attorney, David H. Abrams, with a lot of help from the American Civil Liberties Union took the case to a higher court, charging that a dangerous precedent had been set. In a brief filed in the case, A.C.L.U. lawyers argue that the original decision unlawfully expanded the court’s right “to order medical treatment for a child over a parent’s” objections and applied it to an unborn fetus. “To ignore this fundamental constitutional distinction between the state interest in protecting fetal life and its interest in the protecting the lives and health of people is to risk virtually unfettered intrusion into the lives of pregnant women.”

The lower court based its decision on the fact that medical intervention is justified in “extraordinary” circumstances. The A.C.L.U. responded that the circumstances Burton found herself in were very ordinary. “It is hard to imagine anything more commonplace than the inability of a mother of two to remain on continuous bed rest,” the brief says, “or the well-documented difficulty in quitting smoking,” which Burton was also ordered to do.

Where then, to draw the line? If a court can confine a pregnant woman to a hospital because she refuses (or is unable) to stay in bed and quit smoking, what about the women who doesn’t eat healthfully? Or who drives above the speed limit? Dahlia Ward, state strategist for the A.C.L.U.’s Reproductive Freedom Project, wrote the following in the Daily Kos a few months ago, when the case was first reported:

Don’t get me wrong — of course I want pregnant women to follow their doctor’s advice. But I do not think that pregnant women should be confined against their will if they are unwilling or unable to do so. If we allow the government to confine a pregnant woman for not following orders to remain in bed, what’s next? Will we forcibly hospitalize pregnant women for having a glass of wine with dinner? Or eating too much fast food? What if they don’t take their prenatal vitamins? Or miss their doctor’s appointments? What if a pregnant woman refuses a Cesarean section? While we each may have strong opinions about such behaviors, our government cannot interfere in a woman’s personal private medical decisions. Allowing the government to make medical decisions for pregnant women means that literally every decision and every activity a pregnant woman engages in could be regulated by the state. And certainly the possibility of state-mandated hospitalization for those who have engaged in “unhealthy behaviors” would deter some women from seeking any prenatal care for fear of being punished. In that situation, everybody loses.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-29-2005
Tue, 01-12-2010 - 10:04pm

First, I find the behavior of the doctor/hospital and the decision by the court to be disturbing and disgusting.

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Wed, 01-13-2010 - 8:30am
Disgusting, I wonder if the governing entity compensated her for lost income? OI wonder if she lost her health care insurance how that would be helpful to her pregnancy? I wonder if the state provided child care, housekeeping services, transportation for the whole family and errand-running services as well?
Idiotic.
Not to mention, a severe breach of her civil liberties.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2009
Wed, 01-13-2010 - 9:26am

< Allowing the government to make medical decisions for pregnant women means that literally every decision and every activity a pregnant woman engages in could be regulated by the state. >

Including who could be determined unfit to continue a pregnancy. That was law in many states up through the 60's. And in Chins present day.

Take choice away from women, and it's disastous. The March of Dimes officially opposes criminalizing behavior based on a woman's pregnant status, and no one could possibly accuse them of supporting risky behavior in pregnant women.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-29-2005
Wed, 01-13-2010 - 1:14pm

You'll all be happy to know that in the med school class on Health Law and Ethics, for which I run a small group discussion, the med students have a similar case to analyse, with a woman w/ GDM who hasn't been monitoring her sugars regularly and is at risk of diabetic complications.


The students *definitely* leave knowing about patient AUTONOMY as one of the important guiding ethical principles.

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2009
Wed, 01-13-2010 - 5:01pm

This is horrendous! Aside from the obvious human rights violation, who looked after her toddlers? Who is going to pay the bills now that she's (presumably) lost her job? WTF??

Land of the Free? You might want to check that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-27-2009
Wed, 01-13-2010 - 8:45pm
Apparently the case is being heard this week regarding whether the judge and dr. were right to intervene as they did. Honestly this makes me mad... and i live in Florida! It is a very scary thought to me if the higher court determines that what that judge and doctor did was lawful. It is a sad day for womens rights if they are found not guilty of over stepping the boundaries of the law. What a precipitous slope this will be...
Baby Slings at Nurtured Family

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-11-2005
Thu, 01-14-2010 - 1:28am

ITA

This is so wrong! Who do these people think they are? And where do we think we are Nazi Germany in 1941? OMG!

~Sam

~~Sam stitches well with others, runs with scissors in her pocket. Cheerful and stupid.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2006
Thu, 01-14-2010 - 1:33am

I think the questions re: who would/did provide care for her children, ensure that she continued to receive her income and keep her job are important. I think, however, the most important question is:

If Ms. Burton had no child care challenges, if retaining her income and continuing to receive it while on bed rest was a non-issue...in other words if there were absolutely no barriers to her being on complete bed rest...

Does the court *still* have the right to order her to be on bed rest and/or intervene in *ANY* way re: her medical decisions for the sole reason that she's pregnant? (Caveat: Cases where the patient is deemed mentally unstable and a danger to her/himself and/or others notwithstanding...this would require, I believe, the sign off of two doctors. Interesting that when it comes to imprisoning a pregnant woman only one doctor is needed...)

If the woman was not pregnant and decided to go against the doctor's recommendations, would the courts *still* find it appropriate to deny her personal autonomy, up to and including imprisonment (E.g. not being able to leave the hospital, etc.)? (Same caveat as above.)

The answer to both of those questions is a resounding, "NO!" (At least, it should be.)

I fear that the slippery-slope is *already* in place, this is just one example of a woman being denied her fundamental right to personal autonomy and self-sovereignty based on nothing more than the content (or potential content) of her uterus. (I won't go into my thoughts on gender discrimination that this case highlights...maybe later...)

...Mizzou - who is on an ellipses kick!

"It is right to be contented with what we have, but never with what we are."
- James MacKintosh, Scottish Philosopher

"It is right to be contented with what we have, but never with what we are."

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Thu, 01-14-2010 - 8:14am
Absolutely, on all counts.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2007
Thu, 01-14-2010 - 10:33am

I'm shocked that this is the first time I've heard about this and I fancy myself up to speed on current events.

diane08

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