Chapter 7.C.2 (or 5.C.2) -- Pregnant Women and Forced Medical Treatment


Notes: Forced Medical Treatment


Note 1. Abortion and Cesareans.


For recent developments see, Kirk Johnson, Harm to Fetuses Becomes Issue in Utah and Elsewhere, The N.Y. Times, March 27, 2004, at A9 col. 1 (discussing attempted murder charge brought against woman who refused cesarean section).


Conflicts over cesarean births are also connected to debates about whether women who have had a cesarean delivery may subsequently deliver vaginally without undue risk to themselves or to their children. See, e.g., E. Lieberman et al., Results of the national study of vaginal birth after cesarean in birth centers, 104 Obstet. Gynecol. 933 (2004).


For a perspective on choice and legal issues related to medical intervention during pregnancy see, Erin Nelson, Reconceiving Pregnancy: Expressive Choice and Legal Reasoning, 49 McGill L.J. 583.


Note 3. Court-Ordered Medical Interventions.


A maternal-fetal conflict may also arise when a woman has medical conditions requiring medication that can negatively impact her fetus. See, e.g., Guardianship of J.D.S., 864 So.2d 534 (Fla. App. 2004) (court determines that state law does not permit appointment of guardian for a fetus in case involving incompetent pregnant women whose medications posed risk to fetus).  See also, April L. Cherry, Roe’s Legacy: The Nonconsensual Medical Treatment of Pregnant Women and Implications for Female Citizenship, 6 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 723 (2004).


Note 6. Testing and Medical Treatment for HIV Transmission.


See also, Leslie E. Wolf, Bernard Lo, and Lawrence O. Gostin, Legal Barriers to Implementing Recommendations for Universal Routine Prenatal HIV Testing, 32 J. L. Med. & Ethics 137 (2004).


New Note 7.  Brain Death and Pregnancy.


Are there any legal or ethical problems associated with maintaining a brain dead woman on life support to permit her fetus to mature with the hope that it can be delivered alive?  See AP, Brain-Dead Woman’s Fetus Passes Milestone in Development, The New York Times, July 21, 2005, at A17, col. 1; AP, Brain-Dead Woman Has Baby, The New York Times, August 3, 2005, at A17, col. 2.