Is a woman completely in control of her own body? This question has been in controversy for many legal cases brought to court. Women have lost many cases in court when it comes to being able to use and care for their own body as they want. This issue is especially current when the woman is pregnant and the fetus’ health is in question. The case Samantha Burton v. State of Florida, case number 1D09-1958, “an appeal of a circuit court order compelling a pregnant woman to submit to any medical treatment deemed necessary by the attending obstetrician, including detention in the hospital for enforcement of bed rest, administration of intra-venous medications, and anticipated surgical delivery of the fetus” (Samantha Burton v. State of Florida, 2010). Samantha Burton was a 29 year-old mother of two children who sought medical treatment at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital for premature labor. Ms. Burton willingly went to the hospital after being advised by her regular obstetrician that she might be entering premature labor.
She was admitted for a period of three days. During Ms. Burton’s stay, she was approached by her doctor and the hospital’s attorney’s Ms. Burton only resisted care after she learned she might have to be admitted for possibly the rest of her pregnancy and away from her two children at home. Hospital officials had obtained a court order forcing Ms. Burton to stay in the hospital for the health and wellbeing of her unborn child. Ms. Burton was an occasional smoker but had been under the care of her obstetrician for her entire pregnancy. Ms. Burton delivered a stillborn three days after being admitted by cesarean section surgery and was then discharged. Since this incident, Ms. Burton has taken up the fight over her treatment while in the hospital. The Florida American Civil Liberties Union has decided to help Ms. Burton appeal the court’s decision that removed her ability to make her own medical decisions. Samantha Burton’s case raises issues that are connected to women’s rights, fetus rights, and the right to privacy. Women’s rights
Ms. Burton was willingly seeking medical care for herself and her unborn child at the direction of her own obstetrician. Ms. Burton met the opinion of a physician who pushed unwanted care onto Ms. Burton and enacted legal action against her. Diana Kasden, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said, “Women do not relinquish their right to determine their own medical care when they become pregnant” (“ACLU brief,” 2010, p. 1). Fetal rights
In the case of Samantha Burton v. State of Florida the fetal rights were being championed by Ms. Burton’s physician by ordering her to stop smoking immediately and to remain on strict bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy to help the fetus remain in utero for the longest time possible. The fetus has no voice and for many people no rights until it is born. The physician was acting upon the best interest of the fetus but did not allow the mother to be transferred to another hospital to get another opinion. Right to privacy
Ms. Burton was admitted to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital at the direction of her physician and the hospital attorneys after she exercised her rights to refuse treatment, seek a second opinion, and to be discharged from the hospital. A court order was issued by a judge that Ms. Burton could not leave the hospital. This court order also took away Ms. Burton’s right to make her own medical decisions regarding her health. Ms. Burton and her attorney filed paperwork to regain her rights to her own health decisions. Conclusion
Throughout the years, women have fought for their rights for their bodies, freedom, and to not be treated any less than men. Samantha Burton is no different from any other woman who wants to be able to make her own decisions and to have the opportunity to seek a second opinion when it comes to her body and her unborn child’s health. Women have made huge strides forward for their rights, but all too often barriers are placed that have to be handled in a court of law. Even then the choices are made by a judge and sometimes a jury for the woman who is in question. Women are still not able, in some instances, to make health decisions for themselves because their rights are overruled by our laws at the local, state, and federal levels.
Florida Court Upholds Right Of Pregnant Woman To Determine Medical Care. (2010). Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/florida-court-upholds-right-pregnant-woman-determine-medical-care Samantha Burton v. State of Florida, 1D09-1958 D.C. A. FL 1 (D. FL 2010).