Wednesday, August 5, 2009


burton, prochoice, prolife, pregnant, civil rights, feminism,
I'm not entirely certain I can discuss this intelligently right now as I am incredibly angry about this, but I'll give it a try, because apparently we really need to have this discussion.

Who Gets to Make Medical Decisions for Pregnant Women? from Daily Kos, written by By Dahlia Ward, State Strategist, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

Imagine this — you're the busy mother of two small kids with another one on the way. This pregnancy has been fraught with complications. During a medical exam, your doctor orders bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy. You explain that you can't possibly stay in bed for four months with two small children (!). The doctor insists. You say you want to get a second opinion. The doctor refuses and goes to court and gets a court order mandating your confinement in the hospital for the remainder of your pregnancy.

Sound crazy? Well something along these lines happened to Samantha Burton, a mother of two in Florida who was 25 weeks pregnant when she was hospitalized against her will due to pregnancy complications. When she requested a transfer to another hospital so she could get a second opinion, the state refused because it was not in the fetus' "best interests at the time." After three days in state-mandated confinement, Ms. Burton lost the baby.

This follows on the heels of a case in New Jersey where a woman lost custody of her child after refusing a C-section during delivery of said child. (She gave birth vaginally, the child was born healthy, and they took the child away anyway.)

We have apparently reached the point in this country where pregnant women are second class citizens, denied the rights they would have if they were weren't pregnant, or if they were men. Right now, in this country, we allow paranoid schizophrenics to refuse treatment, knowing full well their refusal will, most certainly, result in harm to them (homelessness, etc.), and could possibly result in harm to others (most paranoid schizophrenics are completely harmless, but there are those few), but we allow them that right anyway. Why? Because despite their illness, paranoid schizophrenics are adults, and we allow adults control over their bodies, even if the result of that control is needless suffering and death. Unless those adults are pregnant women, in which case, they aren't even allowed the necessary information to make a good decision.

The cases involving Ms. Burton and the New Jersey woman prove something I, and others, have said all along: prolifers only care about children in the womb. Once those children are out in the world, they don't give a shit. The New Jersey woman's child was healthy. There was no reason to take the child away from her. That action was purely punitive- punishment for the mere woman who dared to defy the great doctor. Ms. Burton's case is even more disgusting.

Think about the choices Ms. Burton faced. Bed rest means bed rest. You are allowed a 10 minute shower once a day, doctor visits and nothing else. How could anyone possibly even keep two small children clean and safe from bed? Four months of bed rest for Ms. Burton meant a dangerous situation for her two children. I don't know if Ms. Burton worked, but if she did, four months of bed rest would most likely mean four months without a paycheck, if she even had a job to go back to. What were her children supposed to eat? Where were they supposed to live?

Ms. Burton was in a terrible position- or maybe not. She never did get her second opinion. Assuming bed rest was necessary, she was in the worst position I can imagine. She could either protect her two born children, or protect the not-yet-born child. That is a decision I can't imagine having to make, but it was Ms. Burton's decision. No one else's. Not her doctor's, not the judge's, not mine, not yours, not anyone's. Hers.

Women do not become children, incompetent or slaves the moment they become pregnant. They remain competant adults. Or they did, until the prolife lobby took over our legal system. Now, if you get pregnant, remember: your body is not your own, your choices are not your own, your life is not your own. It belongs to someone else. And they don't care about you. You're just a vessel, not a human being.


  1. Somehow, I have the nagging suspicion the issues here stem from the same "all-life-is-sacred-and-must-be-protected-no-matter-what-the-cost" pro-lifer bullshit which, oddly enough, seems to completely neglect the mothers(-to-be) in the equation of "life".

    Interesting how A) pro-lifers seem to be the least pro-"life" of them all, and B) their definition of "life" begins and ends with unborn children. After that, bah, who cares?

    Slimy gits.

  2. exactly. the woman's autonomy to decide what is best for herself doesn't play into this at all. and that is terrifying.

  3. You know, if they keep this up no woman will ever want to get pregnant. I have played with the idea of getting pregnant again, and the chance that I might get treated like this has convinced me not to. I know there are other women out there like me who will take this into consideration.
    Yes, women get emotional when they are pregnant. They do not get stupid. They can make their own decisions. For god's sake.

  4. I will now not even vaguely consider getting pregnant, which I occasionally do as I get older. With my health problems, a pregnancy would be very dangerous, and with the possibility that I could not manage those risks as I see fit, no fucking way.

  5. No kidding, a lot of these doctors don't believe that a woman knows her own body to begin with. After she gets pregnant they believe that she looses all ability to reason. It's insane, and proves yet again that when it comes to the medical community, woman really are second class. These whole fetus fetish people have just feed into it.

  6. Excellent post. For another great in-depth discussion on a related subject, try this link at the NY Times, in which over 500 women talk about the attitudes they've encountered from medical professionals who assume all women are either 1-pregnant and unaware of it; 2-pregnant and in denial; 3-pregnant and lying about it, 4-not pregnant - yet - and stupidly thinking only of their own health and not the theoretical fetus of the future.

  7. I live in NJ and the c-section story sounded too outrageous to be true. The links are from not particularly credible sources. So I checked on it. Here's an article at Salon about it. Key point: "terminating a woman's parental rights for refusing a c-section is a heinous assault on her civil rights. Unfortunately, that's not why the appellate court agreed that V.M. was guilty of abuse and neglect, no matter how large a role it played in the first trial. The new documents go on to say, "irrespective of whether or not V.M. consented to the c-section, there was sufficient credible evidence to support a finding of abuse and neglect as to V.M. The majority therefore eschews any discussion of the issue of c-section."

    I agree with your point that prolifers only care about unborn babies. They completely ignore the rights of the women carrying them. But the NJ story isn't about pro-lifers, and there might be a whole different side to the Burton story too.

  8. Think about this...if the anti-choice people have their way, will a women be hauled into court if she miscarries? Will she have to prove she didn't cause it or promote a miscarriage? If a women is confined to bed rest and gets up more than her allotted number of times and loses the baby, will be punished for 3rd degree murder? With stories like this, I think it's not all that "out there". Yes, abortion sometimes involves the loss of life. It *is* a terrible thing. But if it's in self-defense, no one should be judged.

  9. UNRR, thanks for that Salon link, that article is teh good.

    PF and Leigh, I'm with you, crap like this makes me scared to get pregnant. I'm healthy and all; I'm just poor and have no health insurance. I'd bet...well, say, a diamond-encrusted platinum skull that a woman with really, really good health insurance and a primary care physician who's known her for years gets listened to while pregnant a lot more often than the rest of us would. Money equals credibility.

    And Volly makes an awesome point, about medical people assuming all women are always pregnant. When I was 17, I had to go in for some tests and scans and things 'cause I had an ulcer. The docs and nurses and such interrogated me like a political prisoner from like the second I stepped into their ward to the second they turned on the MRI machine. Apparently there was no way in hell I was not pregnant, because I was 17 and dressed nice and wearing eyeliner. "I'm not sexually active" apparently does not cut it.

    Still, I cannot imagine what it would be like to be pregnant in this city with no health insurance. *shudders* Other than that it would be a freaking nightmare.

  10. just a point about the New Jersey case that gets glossed over every time someone brings up the second court procedure.

    every single fucking thing that they "found" to back up "neglect" was found ONLY because she refused a C-section. because there would not have been ANY SORT OF SEARCH - CPS (or whatever it is called in NJ) would NEVER have been involved - the WHOLE THING revolved around the fucking C-Section, because it NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED if the fucking doctor had just backed the fuck off, instead of flying off the fucking handle and doing *EVERYTHING* text-book WRONG.
    sure, paranoid schitzo patient. you know what you do? you CALL A PSYCH CONSULT - you don't ignore the mother, try to force her to do things she doesn't want and has already refused, you don't go out of your way to be *untrustworthy*.

    just - Jesus - CPS was wasting it's time over this woman, spend hours, days, weeks, finding reasons to take her child away - while there are THOUSANDS of cases reported every fucking day, that are MUCH worse than this one with more evidence, that are *IGNORED*

    i mean, i have called CPS in cases where men are molesting and/or raping children, and they didn't move as fast as they did with this woman refusing a C-Section. if they move at all - poor kids only get attention when it makes the news. minority kids only get attention when it makes *good* news.

    ok? perspective. if she had taken the C-Section, or her doctor hadn't been a unmitigated ass, none of this would have happened. period.

    fundys and conservatives think that pregnancy is the proper punishment for the High Treason Crime of carry two X chromosomes.

  11. That's pretty much the case, control.

    Around here there are several congregations which require females to be "churched" before they may return to a pew after giving birth or after their period.

    They use this to keep track of who might be up to what sexually, not merely to "purify" the person involved and keep "contamination" from the "faithful".

  12. Fiat, that's funny. When my daughter was in the hospital recently she needed an Xray and I wanted to be in the room with her, she's 4 and was scared. The nurses kept asking me if I was pregnant, and I kept having to explain to them tht unless I was suddenly capable of asexual reproduction I was NOT preggers. And it meant nothing to them, they still had me wait outside the room because they felt I might be. They felt. I haven't had sex in quite a while, I'm sure. Sheesh!!

  13. Sarge, you are so full of it. I WISH women were "churched" after childbirth. Vatican II did away with all those lovely rituals. Not even the Latin mass parishes around here do that anymore.

    Guys, get ready for more doctor/ government intrusion if Obamacare becomes law.

    I MAY get pregnant with my 10th child. Just to raise more pro-life people out there to combat this silliness. I love being a mom of many.

  14. and you know what prochoice means, anonymous? that you have the right to have 10 children if you want, and i have the right to have none.

  15. I don't remember this conversation being anti-life. It's about respecting women. Anonymous, it's about someone respecting you enough to let you make your own decision to get pregnant again. And then not treat you like you are signifigantly less important than the baby you are carrying.

  16. I MAY get pregnant with my 10th child. Just to raise more pro-life people out there to combat this silliness.

    Seriously? You're going to have a child for the sole purpose of inculcating it with your political beliefs? What kind of sociopath are you?

  17. Sorry, kid, I'm not "full of it". And I didn't mention catholics at all, did I?

    Whole lot of "independent" congregations around here use this.

  18. This may be viewed as going somewhat off point/topic, but if this kind of crazy stuff is happening and it doesn't seem to be getting any better, why not move to a country that isn't as bad? You know, one that actually has universal/state given health care and where women are treated more equally, at least like people who might possibly take care of themselves and have an idea whether or not they might possibly be pregnant.

    Would it be better for you if the United States became that place? Yes. But from my foreign point of view, it's not about to happen any time soon.

    And yes, I can understand that money, job, family and friends are usually the reason(s) not to leave.

  19. If I had the money to go, I'd be in Sweden right now. Universal health care, 80% atheist, and tiny little deer- basically PF utopia.

  20. Some people clearly believe that women lose their minds when they get pregnant. As it turns out it's everyone else who loses their minds when women get pregnant. Is that one of those cases of irony? Or is it just plain tragic?

    Bah. I'm glad, I'm in Denmark. Within the first 12 weeks abortion is free and state-funded. After that the procedure must be okayed by a board of doctors, but it usually is, since abortions after 12 weeks are usually due to complications (medical or otherwise). And it's still state-funded. No costs for the mother(-no-longer-to-be). Heck even though distances here in DK are far smaller than in the US, people can even have transportation costs covered. And everyone has the right to sick leave - which abortion would qualify you for.

    Our health care system may suck when it comes to the psychiatric wards, but the materity wards have overall real good reputations - at least among the people I've heard from.


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