Well, Thank Goodness

Remember that woman who was fighting the courts and the hospital that forced her to stay under their care during her 25th week of pregnancy, even though she said she couldn’t stay in the hospital because she had two other children at home to take care of?  Here’s a run down of that fuckery:

Burton was in her 25th week of pregnancy in March 2009 when she began to go into premature labor and willingly went to the hospital on the advice of her doctor.

But when the 26-year-old resisted — learning that she might have to stay months until her delivery, away from two toddlers at home — hospital officials obtained a court order to force Burton to submit to anything to “preserve the life and health of [her] unborn child.”

Burton miscarried three days later and was discharged, but now she is taking up the fight over her treatment with the help of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union. They want to strike down the court order that rendered her powerless to make her own medical decisions.

And now the Florida District Court of Appeals has ruled in that woman’s favor, and in the favor of all women who have bodies and want autonomy of those bodies (so, you know, all women):

The Florida District Court of Appeals upheld a pregnant woman’s right to exercise authority over her body late last week in Burton v Florida. Samantha Burton, already a mother of two, was forcibly held in Tallahassee Memorial Hospital at the end of her pregnancy because doctors feared that she would miscarry. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Burton was denied a transfer to another hospital by lower court, but gave birth to a stillborn infant via Cesarean section after three days of being held in the hospital. The court ruled in a 2 to 1 decision that a “patient’s fundamental constitutional right to refuse medical intervention can only be overcome if the state has a compelling state interest. […]

At 25 weeks pregnant, the Court of Appeal did not see Burton’s fetus as a “compelling” state interest, as defined by being “capable of meaningful life outside the womb.” Additionally, when a court does decide an issue is compelling, the decision reads that “the state must then show that the method for pursuing that compelling state interest is narrowly tailored in the least intrusive manner possible to safeguard the rights of the individual.” The court also found Burton was not properly granted legal counsel during the original trial, which violated her Sixth Amendment rights.

Bonnie Erbe, over at US News & World Report, argues that this is a case of blatant sexism. Duh.

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3 thoughts on “Well, Thank Goodness

  1. I followed one of your links and ended up on the Tampa Bay Online story about this incident. The comments were just sick.

    Lots of support for mandatory sterilization for women the commenters didn’t approve of. Lots of support for criminalizing pregnant women who don’t behave the way the commenters want during pregnancy. And etc.

  2. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting!

    Yeah, the comments. Ouch. I have to forcefully will myself not to read comments on stories where I feel passionately about any aspect of it (that’s even true if I am just reading a review of say, last night’s Mad Men episode).

    Sadly, so many people don’t give a shit about bodily autonomy when it comes to women. And that just drives me absolutely nuts.

  3. Pingback: FYI: Pregnant Women are Super Fragile and in Need of Protection « Speaker's Corner

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