Rushville Republican

Community News Network

May 21, 2014

Woman sues a New York Hospital for forcing a C-section. Can doctors do that?

NEW YORK — A New York woman, Rinat Dray, has filed suit against Staten Island University Hospital because she says doctors there forced her to have an unwanted cesarean section. According to The New York Times, Dray has had two C-sections prior to this pregnancy, and she wanted to give birth vaginally. After hours of labor, Dray says she was pressured into a C-section by doctors, who told Dray her uterus would rupture and that, if she didn't submit to the procedure, "she would be committing the equivalent of child abuse and that her baby would be taken away from her."

Though Dray's doctor claims he did not force her to have a C-section, her hospital record included a note signed by the hospital's director of maternal and fetal medicine that said, "I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section." Per the Times, the note added that the hospital lawyer had agreed.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is crystal clear about how they feel about forced C-sections: Their ethics committee says it simply "cannot currently imagine" a situation in which any pregnant woman should be forced by the judicial system or her doctors to have surgery she does not want. It doesn't matter if the doctors believe a C-section is in the best interest of the fetus - the mother's autonomy trumps that.

With a few exceptions, the judicial system agrees. According to Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the Supreme Court has interpreted the right to liberty as the right to make one's own decisions about her medical care. "There is no law anywhere that says that pregnant women lose this right upon becoming pregnant or at any point in pregnancy including during labor and delivery," Diaz-Tello writes in an email.

So how does a situation like Dray's happen? Mary Faith Marshall, a bioethicist and professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, speculates that it's probably a combination of a doctor's hubris and a hospital lawyer not knowing the law. "I think that doctors perhaps get caught up in the moment, there is maybe a rescue fantasy," Marshall says. "There are incorrect clinical judgments made about risk, and it's just a paternalistic approach to medicine in most other ways we've gotten beyond."

That the hospital lawyer allegedly agreed to force a C-section is evidence that he or she did not know the law very well. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist and professor at NYU says, "Without a court order, no procedure can be done against a patient's will even if a fetus might be harmed." Diaz-Tello adds that the law is firmly on the side of pregnant women. "I can only imagine that the hospital didn't attempt to obtain a court order because they knew that no New York court would issue one." Court orders are rare, but they happen. National Advocates for Pregnant Women documented 30 cases where pregnant women were forced by a court order to undergo C-sections or other medical procedures they did not consent to between 1973 and 2005.

The fact is that the vast, vast majority of pregnant women will do anything to protect their babies, and as Marshall puts it, the mother is "better positioned than anyone else in the world to have her fetus' and her family's interest at heart." But even if you think there are situations in which a doctor's judgment should override a mother's when it comes to C-sections, any law that would take the right to refuse medical treatment away from a mother leads down a very scary path to fetal rights laws.

Unfortunately, some states are trying to move in the direction of those laws. There was a case in Utah in 2004 where a woman who delayed a C-section was charged with murder because one of her twins was stillborn. The woman ended up pleading to a lesser charge of child endangerment, and other women have been arrested for child endangerment because they did drugs while pregnant - in other words, because they made a choice about themselves that may have harmed their fetuses. Unsurprisingly, poor and minority women are more likely to be arrested in these cases.

Though Diaz-Tello says that her organization gets calls every day from women who feel that they experienced some level of coercion when it comes C-sections, cases that go as far as Dray's are very rare. "Most women will go along with anything that promotes the health of their baby if the doctor says a procedure, pill or lifestyle change is needed," Caplan says. It should go without saying, but we need to continue to trust pregnant women as rational, adult actors who can make their own medical decisions.

              

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014

  • weightloss.jpg The scales of injustice: Weight loss differs between men, women

    You're not imagining it: There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Robin_Williams.jpg Williams among many who cracked jokes while fighting depression

    Robin Williams isn't the only comedian who has struggled with a disease suffered by an estimated 350 million people worldwide. Williams, a comedian known for his manic energy, committed suicide Aug. 11 at age 63.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drug dealers going corporate

    A top federal official on Tuesday said that 105 banks and credit unions are doing business with legal marijuana sellers, suggesting that federal rules giving financial institutions the go-ahead to provide services to dealers are starting to work.

    August 13, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Deadly Landslides in Japan Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Arrests Witnessed in Ferguson Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Heavy Rains Flood Arizona Roads US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.