Mother of stillborn accused of murder - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Mar/03122004/utah/147031.asp

Well, I thought this was a theoretical problem with giving a fetus equal rights to a pregnant woman, but now it has actually happened.

A woman in Utah is being tried for murder because her fetus died after she refused the advice of a doctor to have ceasarean surgery.

I just have to rant a little. Can you immagine being threatened by hopital bullies that you must accept all medical interventions or else you will be prosecuted as a murderer? It is obvious to me that our right to choose how we give birth and our right to reject medical technology is part of the same continuum that allows women to chose abortion. There is no way to separate the the whole process of pregnancy and birth.

The prosecuting attorney in the article is quoted as saying "What we're trying to send is the message that someone has to stand up for a child who could have been alive."

That's the classic anti-abortion argument, but I simply cannot accept the morality of any world view that would turn this woman into a murderer for refusing to have surgery.


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#2 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 04:39 PM
 
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The whole story is a convoluted moral mishmash.

I mean, so much about her (from the link) seems to point to her not being a good baseline to judge this sort of issue ... does that make sense? Have only a minute to type this, so not being that clear ...

Agreed that it's frightening precedent ... but so much of this particular situation is screwy and unique that I can't see how it can be carried over into putting any mother who refuses a ceasarean and G!d forbid loses the child in legal jeapordy ...

Though this case's mental illness component should knock it out of the legal realm, too ...

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#3 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 06:41 PM
 
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Woa, that all sounds really scary. I understand there is menal illness and drug use involved but it really freaks me out that they want to try a woman with murder for refusing a c-section.

Ugh!!!

I didn't see why they thought a c-section was necessary.

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#4 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 07:51 PM
 
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I hadn't realized, when I first heard about this, that she had such a history with mental illness. That does change things, and makes it hard to imagine they would want to prosecute her as though she had full capacity.

But my feelings are still strong: I think it's really sad that medical thinking is so wrapped up in the law. The other way of saying it is that the law is incredibly medically biased. If she HAD had the c-section and one of them had died, she wouldn't be prosecuted like this. Neither would the medical personnel that delivered the babies. But b/c she refuses a medical procedure, she's viewed as a criminal.

Sad sad sad.
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#5 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 08:17 PM
 
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#6 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 10:17 PM
 
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I agree with Amy - I can't see this particular case setting precedent for all other women.
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#7 of 113 Old 03-12-2004, 11:29 PM
 
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This is not the first time a woman has been prosecuted for not having a c-section. So actually I do see a disturbing trend here. This is one important tactic of some pro-life organizations who see this as a means to overturn Roe v Wade. It's not going to stop until abortion is outlawed.

In another recent case in January a Pennsylvania hospital was *granted guardianship* of an unborn child after a woman refused a c-section there. She went to another hospital and delivered the child vaginally without complication. (She had a healthy pregnancy, it wasn't her first child.)

I think this is just outrageous.
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#8 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 12:12 AM
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I find it odd that people are defending a woman who after several medical assements let her infant die rather than have a c-cection. This woman is negligent IMO. If she had had only one medical opinion then I think it would be a different story. I think there is probably more here than what is being reported.
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#9 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 12:56 AM
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Hmmm...I think that might be a little harsh.

I don't think negligent. I don't think she knew the outcome. I think any one of us could be in the same situation. I would try and refuse a c/s if at all possible. Would I be prosecuted for murder as well?

I mean then where do you draw the line? Does a woman who has an elective c/s and their baby dies get prosecuted? How about a woman who has a homebirth and their baby dies? How about a woman who ends up birthing quickly and has the baby in the back of a car and the baby dies?

Plenty of women who are told that they will NEED a c/s or the baby will die or the baby can't be born without it, prove docs wrong by having healthy babies vaginallly.

There are other issues that I am sure that are not being brought to light. But we all do what we think is best - and sometimes we are wrong. She has suffered enough by losing her child. Does she need to go to jail for making the wrong ultimately tragic decision?

I also think that this opens up a huge can of worms in terms of a doctor being able to force a procedure on a woman for "her own benefit" though. Especially with the precedent of this case. And it might allow women to be bullied more eaily just knowing that someone might be able to press charges if their decision turns out to be wrong.

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#10 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 09:25 AM
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The more I think about these issues the more I think it's too much of a complicated world for my head.
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#11 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 07:09 PM
 
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I heard her being interviewed. I strongly, strongly believe she is not full IQ.
Which if that is the case, I think she would have benefited by having a court awarded guardian. I believe there is more to t his whole story. But it is without a doubt one of the saddest stories I heard in an already sad story week.

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#12 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 07:35 PM
 
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We got a little tid bit in our local paper about this. What it said in our paper was she refused the c-sec because she didn't want a scar, it would ruin her life. (What it said in the paper). I am not sure how true that is, but it freaked me out. I am not one to jump on the c-sec band wagon by any means, but there are cases where it is nessesary. I mean a 30% rate, but WHO says something like 5%? I mean it does happen. I don't know, I am torn. If she was just being selfish about her bodily apperance, then that is just messed up.

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#13 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 08:51 PM
 
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If you read some of the links in the other thread, this is a very troubled woman with a lot of unusual circumstances. The woman herself points out that she had two prior c-sec's the the hospital's claim about her not wanting a scar is bogus...she's already scarred. She has psychiatric and addiction problems however. So read some more about the case, but don't assume she did what she did over physical vanity.
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#14 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 09:08 PM
 
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I am not exactly defending her but I would like to know WHY they felt the c-section was necessary.

Like previous posters stated plenty of women who MUST have a c-section go on to have vaginal births. So I was curious why they thought hers was necessary.

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#15 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 10:55 PM
 
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looks like they saw fetal heartrate distress on one twin. She visited the three hospitals in a period of a few days. Low amniotic fluid also. I would guess IUGR or Twin to twin transfusion symdrome. Both of which are serious even if she'd agreed the first day it was suggested. They were eventually delivered by c-section. She's been in jail since then (about January 13.) She was also giving up her child for adoption. Previous children live with relatives.
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#16 of 113 Old 03-13-2004, 11:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by gardeningmom
I find it odd that people are defending a woman who after several medical assements let her infant die rather than have a c-cection. This woman is negligent IMO. If she had had only one medical opinion then I think it would be a different story. I think there is probably more here than what is being reported.
She CANNOT be negligent if she is mentally ill. SHe is incapable of rationalization with the disorders she has been diagnosed with.

I think if it does go through as is then it will set a VERY dangerous precedent.

With the birth of my last DD at home if I had gone into the hospital at any time more than 24 hours after my water broke they would ahve c/s'd me based soley on supposed infection risk - even though I had had no vaginal exams or anythign up to that point. This coudl just end up REALLY bad for EVERY woman.
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#17 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 12:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by gardeningmom
I find it odd that people are defending a woman who after several medical assements let her infant die rather than have a c-cection.
i find it odd that so many people are so eager to rush to judgement on somebody they don't even know. instead of demonizing a total stranger, why not try and figure out exactly what went wrong so maybe it can be prevented in the future?
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#18 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 01:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by AmyB
The prosecuting attorney in the article is quoted as saying "What we're trying to send is the message that someone has to stand up for a child who could have been alive."
Ok - this thing - IF persued HAS to go both ways. If a mother's chidl is stillborn becuase of the doctors mistake int eh c/s can she press charges for felony murder too?

Quote:
why not try and figure out exactly what went wrong so maybe it can be prevented in the future?
Exactly mu thoughts too!

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#19 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 10:07 AM
 
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#20 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 10:51 AM
 
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Quote:

I mean then where do you draw the line? Does a woman who has an elective c/s and their baby dies get prosecuted? How about a woman who has a homebirth and their baby dies? How about a woman who ends up birthing quickly and has the baby in the back of a car and the baby dies?


This is exactly the heart of this case. "They" are coming after us to force us to birth our children "their way".

Seriously.

Do some googling. Go to the Midwives forum here.

Many women cannot find a Dr who will let them try to VBAC.

Many have been prosecuted for unassisted birth.

Here in IL there is a case of a lay-mw being prosecuted after a baby was stillborn. The parents are not prosecuting, the county is!!! That is bs. The parents are at peace with what happened and were made to go thru it again and again bcuz of a witchunt trial.

The gov't should stay the hell out of my body! And my children's body.

Just are much are you all willing to give up?


El
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#21 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 11:30 AM
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I'm inclined to agree with El.
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#22 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 12:12 PM
 
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I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EL!!!!!!

Have you seen this....
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#23 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 12:14 PM
 
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National Advocates for Pregnant Women

NAPW Commentary on Murder Arrest of Pregnant Woman Who Refused a C-Section

An arrest in Utah yesterday of 28 year old Melissa Rowland who allegedly committed murder by refusing a recommended C-section represents a shocking abuse of state authority and a dangerous disregard for medical ethics.

In this case prosecutors claim that a woman pregnant with twins rejected advice of her physicians to have a cesarean section. Prosecutors assert that the stillbirth of one of the twins was caused by her refusal to undergo this surgery. According to the law, however, pregnant women, like other Americans have the right to decide whether or not to undergo surgery. The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well other leading medical groups similarly conclude that the final decision must be the woman’s.

These legal and medical –ethical principles make sense for both women and children. Doctors are not infallible and their advice is just that, advice. Recently a woman went to a hospital in Pennsylvania ready to deliver her seventh child. For reasons that remain far from clear, the hospital decided she needed a c-section and when she refused they went to court. They asked for and won an order giving the hospital custody of the fetus before during and after delivery and the right to take custody of the pregnant woman and forcer to have the cesarean surgery. She and her husband fled the hospital and delivered a perfectly health baby without surgery. Similar cases abound. In Georgia doctors got a court order claiming that without a c-section the baby had a 99% chance of dying and the woman a 50% chance of dying. The court granted the order, she fled and delivered a healthy baby vaginally. Neither women nor children are protected by a system that makes women flee from hospitals or subjects them to unnecessary surgery.

Angela Carder was not as lucky. Critically ill with a recurrence of cancer and 25 weeks pregnant, she, her family and attending physicians agreed to focus on prolonging her young life for as long as possible. The Hospital however sought a court order forcing her to have a c-section. Despite testimony that the surgery could kill her, the court concluded that the fetus had a right to life and ordered her to be cut open against her will. The surgery was performed: the fetus died within two hours and Angela died within two days with the c-section listed as a contributing factor. No one suggested arresting the doctor or hospital officials for murder, in that case arguably a double homicide.

Ayesha Madyun survived. She was forced to have a c-section based on the claim that she had been in labor too long and that her baby was at risk of dying from an infection. Her request to be allowed to wait longer before having the surgery so she could try natural delivery was portrayed to the court as an irrational religious objection to surgery. The court granted the order and after Ms. Madyun had been forcibly cut open they found that there was in fact no infection.

The ability to get a court order or threaten pregnant women with arrest has many negative consequences beyond denying pregnant women rights and performing unnecessary surgery that poses health risks to both the pregnant woman and fetus. In another Illinois case, doctors sought a court order for a forced c-section claiming the pregnant woman and her husband held irrational religious beliefs opposing all surgery. The doctors ran to the court instead of spending time with the patient. The court refused the order, the baby was delivered naturally, and it turned out that if the doctors had spent the time communicating with the patient and her family rather than judging them and rushing to court, they would have learned that it was misunderstanding not an absolute objection to surgery that made it appear that this couple was refusing a recommended (but unnecessary) c-section.

Today both the law and medicine agree that coerced medical interventions on pregnant women are an abuse of medical and state authority and that while pregnant women do not always make the right decision, in America, it is the person on whom the surgery is to be performed who gets to decide. In spite of this, Utah prosecutors apparently think that a pregnant woman who exercises her constitutional and common-law right to refuse medical advice can be arrested for murder. This is not only a clear misuse of the law, it is dangerous to children and fundamentally dehumanizing to pregnant women and their families.

Lynn M. Paltrow
Executive Director
National Advocates for Pregnant Women
153 Waverly Place, 6th Floor
New York, New York 10014
212-255-9252
917-921-7421
212-254-9679 (fax)
LMPNYC@aol.com
www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org
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#24 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 12:26 PM
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From http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/

"By identifying the common features of the war on reproductive rights-including the right to safe, legal abortion"

What does abortion has to do with reproduction?

I would defend women that have their own beliefs in what is safer for their children - for instance, I believe UC is safer than C-Sections.

But women that use abortion as contraception? I don't think I want to support those.
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#25 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 12:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Leonor
From http://www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/

"By identifying the common features of the war on reproductive rights-including the right to safe, legal abortion"

What does abortion has to do with reproduction?

I would defend women that have their own beliefs in what is safer for their children - for instance, I believe UC is safer than C-Sections.

But women that use abortion as contraception? I don't think I want to support those.
I do not know what you are referring to but I believe you found something at that particular website?

Anyway, LEO. Could you tell me more what you mean here? I am confused by your posting this in this thread.
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#26 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 12:55 PM
 
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There sure are alot of threads going on about this case.



Let me tell you about the other side of a trajedy like this. This is a woman I know and I know her son. We met in LLL years ago.

Pregnant with her 5th. Had some HB and some hosp birth prior. Was doing HB this time.

A few weeks b4 due date babe was breech. She went to Dr for turning. As she was leaving a nurse just happened to say, do you know what to do if you ever have cord prolapse? Friend says no and hears from nurse that you are to drop to hands and knees for the least amount of pressure on cord and transport for C- section immediately. 3 days later she had cord prolapse. Did exactly as she was told. So happens that the ambulance driver (she rode on her hands and knees!) had just learned about this also and was getting a good cord pulse all the way into the hosp.

It was 4am in the ER...............no OB's around..................she was on her hands and knees screaming that the baby was moving and she wanted the section.......................they were trying to find a) a f-ng ultrasound machine and b) an ob.........................nurses kept telling her that the babe was dead and that all mothers feel their dead babies move.........................after a few hours she was sectioned and her son is almost a complete vegetable.

He will be 8yo soon. Tube fed. Very little brain activity. Blind.

She now has to pay atty's fee up the ying yang to prove hosp negligence.....................and, let me tell you, all the classics are in play "lost" records, changing testimonies, constant continuances.


So, there you have it.


Do it "our" way or the gov't will charge you with murder.

If "we" f-up you had better get a crack lawyer bcuz we will do our damndest to take no responsibility.


Ever feel like you're being screwed? I sure do.



El


PS - I'm of the opinion that we are already on the slippery slope and moving downhill fast.......................
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#27 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 01:04 PM
 
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well said, El. Again. ITA.
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#28 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 01:27 PM
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Originally posted by hotmamacita
Anyway, LEO. Could you tell me more what you mean here? I am confused by your posting this in this thread. [/B]
Sorry for the confusion. The phrase bettween the commas was from the website, and I didn't like to see abortion mixed in their cause. That's all. I think it's a differente issue. Nevermind.

El,

What a tragic story.
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#29 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 06:10 PM
 
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You know this country amazes me. Abortion = not murder. Refusing C-section, baby born stillborn = murder. Can someone make up their fricking mind?


I have heard of cases where a pregnant mom got in a car accident and her baby died and the driver of the other car is charged with murder.

There is a definitely gray line when it comes to whether your fetus is technically a person or not. Tis an ugly situation.

I think it is sick to charge the mother with murder.

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#30 of 113 Old 03-14-2004, 08:47 PM
 
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Oh, this is sad, sad, sad.....




Why does the medical establishment pump up this mind set that you are guaranteed a healthy baby if you do everything 'right'? It's birth- there are no guarantees, just like in life & death. Any one of us could lose one of our babies tomorrow to some horrible accident, or set of circumstances, or whatever...... There are no guarantees that everything will work out the way we planned, all we can do is hold onto them for as long as we are blessed to do so. really am crying now.

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