I've been reading about a recent case that has got me really riled up, and if it doesn't disturb you, too, then you must watch Fox News. If you are a woman or a man who cares about women and this doesn't scare the bejesus out of you, you're just not paying attention.
A Florida doctor ordered "bedrest" for a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant and apparently at risk of miscarrying. She told him that she couldn't just go to bed for the rest of her pregnancy because she had a job and two small children to take care of. So the doctor reported her to Florida's version of DCS, who ordered her confined to a hospital and denied her request to be transferred to another hospital where she could get a second opinion. The ACLU took up her cause and appealed to Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal. And the court sided with the state. Check this out:
After a brief telephone hearing, and no review of her medical records or consideration of a second medical opinion, the circuit court summarily ordered Ms. Burton to submit to any and all medical treatments and interventions — including eventually a C-section — that the hospital's medical staff deemed appropriate. To top it off, the court ordered her to remain confined on constant bed rest at the very hospital where the disagreement arose, and expressly prohibited her from switching to another hospital.
Let's review: a woman tells a doctor she can't comply with his recommendation of bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy. The doctor reports her to DCS, as he would a child abuser. For the safety of the fetus, the woman is confined to a hospital against her will, away from her small children who need her, and ordered to submit to any and all medical treatment the doctors order, whether she wants it or not.
Read more about this outrageous case here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/reader-diaries/2010/01/13/court-forces-bed-rest-pregnant-woman and here: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/is-refusing-bed-rest-a-crime/
If you haven't read "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, you really should. It was also made into a movie in 1990, starring Robert Duvall and Natasha Richardson. The current parallels with Atwood's apocalyptic future are unnerving. In her dystopian world, there was an epidemic of infertility, especially among the upper class. With the blessing of the government, wealthy couples could kidnap or buy a woman of proven fertility to act as a "handmaid" who would live with the couple and have sex with the husband (which neither was supposed to enjoy) until she produced a child. The wealthy couple would then take the baby from its rightful mother, discard the now unneeded broodmare, and raise the precious child as their own. The "handmaids" themselves had no rights or significance; their only value was in their ability to produce babies.
Does a woman forfeit her Constitutional rights just because she forgot to take a pill or the condom broke? When is a potential human (a fetus) more deserving of human rights than a fully grown woman? Even when a woman is pregnant with a much-wanted child, shouldn't her health and well-being take precedence over that of the fetus, which is always just a potential human until it is actually born? I'm really disturbed by the way our society is going on this issue.
Also, who is supposed to pay for the expensive hospital stay and medical treatment that this woman tried to refuse? It's not clear whether she is insured or not. If she's not insured, how much do you want to bet the hospital has already sent her a bill for thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars? If she is poor and on Medicaid, who do you think is going to pick up the tab? Yep, you and I are, as taxpayers. Even if she is insured, her insurance company will pass the costs of her treatment on to consumers through higher premiums, fees and deductibles. Ultimately we'll all pay more. In a world of constantly rising medical costs is that a good use of our limited health care funds?
January 15, 2010 update:
I found another news article about this case: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/florida-court-orders-pregnant-woman-bed-rest-medical/story?id=9561460
This story clarifies some facts in the case. For example, the woman was only confined to the hospital for 3 days before she miscarried, thereby ending her forced confinement. And...she smoked cigarettes. But while everyone knows smoking isn't good for the fetus, smoking is still a legal activity that a lot of Americans indulge in. It's not like she was smoking crack. I still don't understand why her doctor took this adversarial attitude toward her. Why confine her to a hospital against her will?