You Say No, The Courts Say Yes, Guess Who Wins

Samantha Burton was 25 weeks pregnant when her membranes ruptured. Burton’s obstetrician admitted her to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) and prescribed continuous inpatient bed rest. But with two young children and a job to consider, Burton found the prospect of a 3-month hospital stay overwhelming. She decided to go home. When she tried to leave, authorities barred her exit.

Soon, the machinery of court-ordered care started rolling. TMH’s outside counsel, deputized by the local state attorney to act on Florida’s behalf, petitioned for judicial approval to force Burton to follow doctors’ orders. Within hours, the court heard argument from the hospital–state attorney and testimony from the obstetrician — now considered “the unborn child’s attending physician.” Burton testified by phone from the hospital, without counsel.

— A woman’s right to choose (when she has it!) doesn’t extend throughout her pregnancy. This piece on court-ordered care (also known as “forced care”) by Julie D. Cantor, MD is a real treat of a thing, the treat being case after case of the court usurping folks’ right to make decisions about their bodies. (My guess is that this happens way more often, if not exclusively, to low-income women who can’t hire expensive lawyers to smack down this bullshit. Also, a low-income woman would be way more likely to have to work through her entire pregnancy despite doctors’ orders.)


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