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

A happy birth story for the new year

I thought we’d start off 2010 on a good note.

Via Pushed Birth and CNN, the happy news that Joy Szabo gave birth vaginally to her fourth child on December 5th without incident.

Unfortunately she had to do quite a bit of fighting to have the birth she wanted. From Jennifer Block:

Joy Szabo of Page, Arizona, was told by her local hospital that she wouldn’t be allowed to give birth vaginally there. She even met with the hospital CEO to discuss their policy of forcing repeat C-sections — a policy she equated with physical assault — and the hospital responded by threatening to get a court order for the surgery. When the local paper headlined Szabo’s plight, the hospital backed off, but it still told her “No VBAC.” Instead of agreeing to the major surgery, Szabo pushed back. She found a willing hospital and provider in Phoenix, a six hour journey by car from her home, and made the decision to move there and await labor.

The birth was an easy one, with just a few hours of labor and one quick push. Congrats Joy!

C-section rate in NYC up 24% in 6 years

Crazy. Choices in Childbirth and the New Space for Women’s Health have partnered in collecting this data and getting it out into the media.

You can see a video, including a graphic about c-section rates broken down by borough, at NY1.

Choices in Childbirth has a pdf with all the stats. Just as an example here are the stats for just two of the hospitals in Manhattan. Each percentage represents the rates as they increased each year beginning in 2000 going to 2006.  

New York Downtown Hospital 11.1 % 13.5 % 13.3 % 14.2 % 18.4 % 18.8 % 21.6 %

Bellevue Hospital 18.4 % 18.5 % 19.8 % 20.9 % 22.6 % 25.2 % 27.8 %

Just as a friendly reminder, the World Health Organization recommends that the cesarean section rate for industrialized nations should not exceed 15%.

This is why NYC needs things like the New Space for Women’s Health:

Friends of the Birth Center announces the launch of the New Space for Women’s Health, a project to create a center for birth and wellness in New York City. We’re beginning a fresh dialogue with women about changing birth and women’s health care in our city. Join us in this important conversation as we plan a new beginning, in Chelsea, 2010.

Thanks to Rebecca for the link

The Myth of the Elective C-Section

I’m about a week late on this one, but check out my feature over at RH Reality Check on the myth of the elective c-section.

When the media covers the rising rate of c-section, it’s often ready to lay the blame at the feet of a woman we’re come to know well over the last few years — the busy career mom scheduling her delivery between important business deals, penciling in labor and delivery the way she pencils in a client meeting. As criticism of surgical birth mounts, the idea that mother-initiated c-sections are spurring an overall increase in the practice has only become more popular.

I go on to refute this idea, with the help of some great birth activists and advocates.

Does it do any harm when the media, doctors and others point to mother’s choice as the reason behind higher c-section rates? These advocates argue that it takes away attention from the how decisions related to pregnancy and childbirth are really made: often, under intense pressure from the woman’s physician.

Check the full piece out here.

C-sections on the rise in Canada too

While Canada is frequently touted as our more progressive and liberal neighbor to the north, things are not perfect for childbirth there either. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada reports that more than 1 in 4 deliveries in Canada are c-sections.

“While the individual risk for a woman having a C-section is very small, the rising rate is certainly a concern,” society president Dr. Guylaine Lefebvre said in a release.

“We fear that there may be an emerging trend towards more scheduled childbirth and routine intervention. We need to be sure that C-sections are not driven by convenience, that interventions are medically indicated and that the safety of a woman and her baby are the driving factors in these decisions.

Between 1993 and 2006, Canada’s C-section rate grew to 26.3 per cent of all deliveries from 17.6 per cent. The increase is attributed an increase in the number of obese mothers, in which more pregnancy complications necessitating a C-section can arise, and older maternal ages.

Canada’s rate is still behind our 1 in 3 rate, but may not be far behind. They are also more supportive of midwives and out-of-hospital births.

Check out RH Reality Check on Monday for my feature on the myth of the elective c-section.

Thanks to Derek for the link!

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

Without even knowing it I posted about c-sections on the first day of Cesarean Awareness Month.

Thanks to all the awesome birth activist bloggers out there (and my fancy new google reader!) I found a lot of posts about this month’s theme. Here is one good round up of posts about it.

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is a good place to go for activism and advocacy around c-sections. Find a local chapter and get involved!

Playing the c-section guessing game

A new British study is out that correlates cervix length with likelihood of cesarean section.

Researchers in Britain say their study of more than 27,000 pregnancies found that women with the longest cervixes were more likely to need surgery to deliver their child.

Probably not a surprise, but I’m not a big fan of research like this. Number one, I don’t understand why having a long cervix might mean you couldn’t deliver vaginally. Number two, we need LESS c-sections, not more. In the US we already have a c-section rate surpassing 1 in 3, and the World Health Organization recommends 1 in 10. Number 3, is this kind of research going to give doctors another reason not to even allow women to try and deliver vaginally? I can just see it, sorry ma’am, your cervix is too long, we should just schedule a c-section because you’re probably going to need it anyway. What happened to correlation is not causation?

Lastly, read this piece from Bitch Magazine for more on way scientific studies are not always great science, or great journalism.

via Doulicia