Woman forced into court-ordered hospital confinement and c-section

UPDATE (Jan 13): Via the ACLU’s blog posted at RH Reality Check and Feministing, the State of Florida yesterday argued that forcing Burton to bed rest was just maintaining the “status quo.” Ugh.

Via a press release from the ACLU (which I can’t find on their website), a woman who was forced via court order to hospital confinement during her pregnancy’s case was heard yesterday in a Florida court.

Samantha Burton who was confined to a hospital bed, against her will, after disagreeing with her doctor’s recommendations for treating pregnancy complications last year.

In March 2009, the Circuit Court of Leon County ordered Ms. Burton – a pregnant mother of two – to be indefinitely confined to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and forced to undergo any and all medical treatments deemed necessary to save her fetus.  After three days of state-compelled hospitalization, Ms. Burton miscarried and was released from the hospital.

In August 2009, Ms. Burton asked the court to overturn the lower court’s decision to compel her to undergo medical treatment, stating that her rights had been violated.

It’s pretty scary stuff when a court can force you into hospitalization based on the idea that they are protecting your fetus.

Jill at Unnecessarean wrote about this case in August. In her post, she explains that Burton actually had a forced c-section during the time of her hospitalization, which is when they realized that she had miscarried. The statement above doesn’t include that fact, but it’s in the brief filed by the ACLU.

The language the court used is pretty damn scary:

At the State’s request, the Circuit Court, Leon County, ordered Ms. Burton to be indefinitely confined, which had her pregnancy gone to term would have been up to fifteen weeks, to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and to submit, against her will, to any and all medical treatments, restrictions to bed rest, and other interventions, including cesarean section delivery, that in the words of the court, “the unborn child’s attending physician,” deemed necessary to “preserve the life and health of Samantha Burton’s unborn child.”

I’ll update when I hear about the results of the case.

Thanks to Lynn Paltrow for the heads up


4 thoughts on “Woman forced into court-ordered hospital confinement and c-section

  1. The Deranged Housewife January 15, 2010 / 1:05 am

    They only realized DURING The section that her baby had died? What, couldn’t they be bothered to do an ultrasound? Good God.

    The irony in this is that the woman has rights (and the fetus NONE) if you want to abort your child. But when you want to keep it … oh, suddenly they care so much.

  2. radicaldoula January 19, 2010 / 11:58 am

    Well, in defense of the hospital (am I really defending the hospital??) once you’ve suspected that fetal death has occurred with twins, c-section is probably one of your only options for dealing with the situation.

    Still a shocking situation though, to say the least.

  3. Concerned Momma January 27, 2010 / 12:24 pm

    There should be a boycott of this doctor. Perhaps people should write to the hospital and encourage them not to renew her contract. Let us vote with our dollars. Money talks!


    Jana M. Bures-Forsthoefel, M.D.
    Gynecology & Obstetric Associates
    1405 Centerville Rd., #4200
    Tallahassee, FL 32308
    Fax: 850-671-2971

    Tallahassee Memorial Hospital
    1300 Miccosukee Road
    Tallahassee, FL 32308
    (850) 431-1155

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