Monday, January 11, 2010

You need to be following Samantha Burton's case

This case (which I mentioned here, in August) is truly outrageous and terrifying for anyone out there who fears that women could become actual second-class citizens as a result of stricter abortion laws and/or "fetus' rights" laws ... because it happened in this case, without either of those two. It's been said over and over, for example, that if women are forced to give birth, they instantly lose rights and autonomy. That could also be the outcome of any legitimate fetus-is-a-person law. In this case, a pregnant woman in Florida, already a mother, who disagreed with how doctors wanted to treat her pregnancy was court-ordered to undergo bed rest and "any medical treatment necessary" to save her fetus. This is the government telling a pregnant woman that not only can she not make medical decisions on her own, she must also for real give up control of her body.

From the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog:
ACLU Press Release: Tallahassee Court To Hear Arguments On Tuesday In Support Of The Rights Of Pregnant Women To Refuse Medical Care:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union will argue in the First District Court of Appeal as friends of the court in support of Samantha Burton who was confined to a hospital bed, against her will, after disagreeing with her doctor's recommendations for treating pregnancy complications last year.

In March 2009, the Circuit Court of Leon County ordered Ms. Burton – a pregnant mother of two – to be indefinitely confined to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and forced to undergo any and all medical treatments deemed necessary to save her fetus. After three days of state-compelled hospitalization, Ms. Burton miscarried and was released from the hospital.

In August 2009, Ms. Burton asked the court to overturn the lower court’s decision to compel her to undergo medical treatment, stating that her rights had been violated.

The ACLU will argue on Tuesday that the lower court’s decision invites courts to impermissibly intervene in nearly all aspects of a pregnant woman’s behavior and medical judgments. The result: some women will be discouraged from coming to a hospital for pregnancy care if they know that any disagreement may lead to forced medical treatment.

The ACLU’s brief is available at:

Video of Tuesday’s argument will be available live at:

WHAT: Argument in Burton v. Florida, No. ID09-1958, a case involving the forced medical treatment of pregnant women.
WHEN: Tuesday, January 12, 2010, at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: First District Court of Appeal, 301 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Tallahassee, FL
WHO: Available for comment immediately following the argument:

David H. Abrams will argue on behalf of appellant, Samantha Burton.

Diana Kasdan, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, will argue on behalf of amici: the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, and the American Medical Women’s Association.
You can also read more about this case here and here.

UPDATE: A couple more articles about it, including one from the New York Times, and one on

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