Court Orders Pregnant Woman to Bed Rest and Medical Care Against Her Will

Media Coverage of Burton v. State of Florida

Many of you have probably already heard about this story. I've seen references to it since it first happened in August, but I didn't pay much attention to it until today. It's such a sad story. It's bothering me, and I'd like to get opinions from some of the other wonderful ladies in this community. I can understand that the doctors and hospital want to do everything within their power to help save a struggling fetus, but should that allow them to legally bind the mother to follow their recommendations against her will? Where is the line that's crossed where protecting the unborn child conflicts with the rights of the childbearing woman? How could the doctors and hospitals have possibly handled the situation differently to respect the expectant mother's feelings and concerns?

Tags: birth, high-risk, hospital, legal, rights

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Wow, I was reading that, and the other cases they mentioned...talk about a fine line! I would hate to be a judge. Yes, the mother was smoking, but on the other side, she had 2 toddlers at home, and she miscarried anyway- even though she was on forced bed rest! And these are the same people who would agree that a partial-birth abortion is perfectly legal. And that woman had no monitor and no nurses in the room with her! Crazy. That IS a prison, and I would have walked out immediately...of course, if I wasn't endangering the life of my baby by smoking either. Huh. Very tough. If I was a doctor on that, I would have told her, "Your smoking is going to cause a miscarriage, and we would like you to be on bed rest. If you want, your toddlers can stay here as well, and your husband, and we'll give you a suite, and treat you like kings and queens- with food and beds for all- IF YOU WANT IT".
Sara, thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate your suggestions, and I agree that's it's a tough situation. Unfortunately, we don't know exactly what her doctor said to her and what she said in response, and why it became a conflict of wills. I would hope that the doctor had talked with her about her smoking from the beginning of the pregnancy, and that when her pregnancy became high risk they were respectful to her and considered her feelings and concerns. Obviously, she feels her concerns weren't respected. Maybe if they had tried to work out an arrangement for her family and still be able to monitor her baby's health it wouldn't have gone to the courts to be decided. I'm still thinking about this.
In the end, a pregnant woman should have complete autonomy regardless of the life she is carrying within her. Because lets face it, a woman willing to carry a child for nine months, is actively seeking prenatal care, and is anticipating the birth of her child is going to make the right decisions for her and for that child. In my personal opinion, it's horrific to see the double standard played out before us. We can get legally get abortions, but we can't make a decision to gracefully let our bodies miscarry?
I don't know if you've read the book Pushed, but there's a lot towards the end of the books about the legal rights of a woman, versus the legal rights of the unborn child. Now, I'm pro-life, but it seems to me that we have no call as a country to control what a woman decides to do with her body, even if it affects our unborn. So, in the end, the mother should have been able to walk out of that hospital the moment she wanted to. Her body, her baby, her decision.
I too think it is outrageous that in a country where a woman can choose to abort her pregnancy for whatever reason, a woman can't choose how to take care of her unborn baby. It's the same with choosing how you give birth to your baby. Should all those moms on that crazy show "I didn't know I was pregnant" be persecuted for not taking care of their body during pregnancy? I am always torn when it comes to protecting unborn babies because on one hand I don't want any babies killed or harmed, but on the other I want all women to choose what they want for their child and body. It's a tough issue.
That's exactly how I feel. Its hard to be pro-life in a country that takes legality to a whole other level of control. I guess, what I've come down to is, I don't think abortion is the right choice, but it's a choice none the less and it should have nothing to do with the government. Because if they can legislate that a woman can't abort, then the precedent will be set that the government can dictate what I do with my body and my baby.
I just went back and read that last chapter in Pushed. Women are in prison for doing drugs during their pregnancies, mothers are having children taken away for not heeding their OB's advice. It's outrageous and sickening. And people call me paranoid?
Well, as far as I know, there is no research that backs up bed rest. We don't really know that bed rest really helps if a woman is miscarrying. I haven't looked into to it too much, but as far as I know, there was no research to back up this doctor's decision to force bed rest. If anything, the court should have ordered her to be in a smoking cessation program, not lock her up in the hospital. It makes me upset that this decision was not researched based.

IMO, they should have helped her stop smoking(give her nicotine patches, and maybe make her go into some program), offered her help at home with her toddlers, and provide way more support for her. Of course, we don't know what really they did do, but I bet they didn't offer too much in the way of support for her. We can't tell people they have to do something, and then not offer anyway for them to do it. Plus, they weren't helping her by forcing her to be in the hospital. What about the fact that the were taking her away from her toddlers. Having to arrange someone to watch kids can be hard and expensive. Weren't that cause some problems. And the expenses it may create to be in the hospital may also harm their families.
Thanks Rachel, I appreciate your input and you make some very good points.

I hear so many stories of women being admitted for preterm labor and being put on bed rest. Sometimes the labor stops, and sometimes the labor continues and the baby is born anyway. Years ago pregnancy was referred to as "Confinement" and women were expected to essentially be on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy because it was believed too dangerous to continue normal activity, especially in the upper class who had the luxury of hiring additional help. I wonder of the modern concept of bed rest is really just a newer version of the old-fashioned notion that it will somehow bring about a better outcome.

I can't help but think of the stress of the whole situation, and I'm sure that didn't help the well-being of the fetus at all.

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