In the case of abortion, the intent to terminate the pregnancy and rid the body of the embryo is clear. In the forced c-section cases, which you will read for this activity, the motivation for refusing a C-Section is not nearly as obvious and typically centers around the mother's right to her own bodily integrity, rather than a desire to harm the fetus. While many believe the welfare of the child must take precedence in the critical hours of delivery, critics argue that the practice goes too far in interfering with a person's autonomy and sets a dangerous precedent for other oversights that might infringe upon and criminalize a woman's choices and behaviors throughout her pregnancy.
The following, adapted from an actual case scenario (Pemberton v. Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center, Inc) demonstrates how far society is willing to go to protect a fetus:
Having undergone a prior C-section two years ago with the birth of her son, Molly and her husband were excited about welcoming their new daughter. Molly suffered emotionally after the C-Section. The recovery was difficult, which kept Molly from caring for her son for the first few weeks. Also, as a self-professed 'naturalist,' Molly felt she had somehow failed to meet her responsibilities as a woman and a mother by foregoing natural delivery. This time, she was determined that she and her husband would experience a natural birth. Since none of the Obstetricians she contacted would agree to the natural delivery, citing the potential for a uterine rupture that would be harmful to both Molly and her baby, Molly and her husband decided to have the baby at home, with the assistance of a licensed mid-wife.
A day after Molly went into labor the mid-wife was concerned that Molly was getting dehydrated. Upon her suggestion, Molly agreed to go to the ER for some IV fluids and have the baby delivered through natural birth there. Upon being admitted into the ER, one of the obstetricians she had consulted regarding the vaginal birth recognized her. The Obstetrician insisted again that she undergo a C-Section, claiming that there was a 90% risk that the baby would suffer from a vaginal birth, and only a 50% risk that Molly would be unduly harmed by a C-Section. Molly refused and left the hospital, determined to have her baby at home via a vaginal delivery. After she left, the hospital sought and secured a court order to compel Molly to undergo the C-Section to protect the life of the fetus. Shortly thereafter, a sheriff arrived at Molly's home, arrested her, held her legs together and forced her into his squad car and back to the hospital, where the forced c-section was performed.
Read the following and then proceed to the activity discussion:
Haak, S. (2009, January 23). The rights and responsibilities of pregnant women. Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity
Lusero, I., & paltrow, L. (2008, September 25). Amendment 48: It's dangerous to women. DenverPost.com.
Utah woman in C-section case pleads innocent to murder charge: Woman allegedly refused procedure, twin dies. (March, 15, 2004) MSN.com.
Discuss the following:
You are a respected Ethics professor in BigBro, USA. Based on the Molly scenario, your state legislature is considering instituting "Babies First," a mandatory protection program. Among other provisions, the bill requires that pregnant women follow the delivery recommendation of their obstetrician. If the mother disagrees with the obstetrician's advice, the mother may seek a consult with an independent obstetrician, and if there is agreement amongst the two doctors, she must adhere to their decision. A failure to comply with any of the requirements may subject the woman to criminal charges related to harm incurred by the baby, including murder should the infant fail to survive delivery due to the mother's refusal to follow the doctor's advice.
Discuss your position on whether the proposed "Babies First" bill is ethically justified in its attempt to protect the interests of an un-born fetus by restricting and mandating the mother's delivery options. You must justify your response using the ethical theories and principles we've learned thus far. You cannot just give an opinion.