Forced Bed Rest Unconstitutional: Even Pregnant Women Can Refuse

Jeanne Sager

bed restA Florida mom who was forced to remain in a hospital on bed rest has just won a case for pregnant women everywhere.

Pregnant women still have the right to refuse medical treatment, a Florida court of appeals has decided.

Samantha Burton was six months pregnant with what would have been her third child when she went to the doctor complaining of complications to her pregnancy.

The doctor told her she was facing miscarriage if she didn't stay in the hospital on bed rest. When she refused, the Florida State Attorney's office secured a hospitalization order that locked her in the hospital for three days -- when she miscarried anyway.

According to the new court ruling quoted on Tampa Bay Online, "A patient's fundamental constitutional right to refuse medical intervention 'can only be overcome if the state has a compelling state interest great enough to override this constitutional right.'"

In this case, the state failed to prove locking Burton in a hospital was better for her fetus.

The fact is, women when pregnant are still human beings in and of themselves. Being locked up in a hospital is akin to being treated as a caged animal -- and why? Because she was pregnant?

If she'd simply been an adult suffering from cancer, she'd have been allowed to go home and die of her own accord.

Burton made it clear she didn't want an abortion and she sought medical treatment because she didn't want the fetus to die. She wasn't showing a wanton disregard -- anything but.

But when she disagreed with a doctor, she wasn't given the chance to make decisions about her own body.

Burton says she fought this even though her case was technically over because she didn't want other women afraid of seeking prenatal care.

Doctors aren't infallible. Ceding constitutional rights to them sets us out on a dangerous precipice.

Did you ever worry about disagreeing with your doctor?


Image via Muffet/Flickr

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