Meanwhile, Womb-Bearers Get Rights Too!

While everyone has been focused on the hope that gays and lesbians may soon get the rights straight people enjoy, in Florida a court ruled that womb-bearers have some rights too, specifically to decide their own medical treatment when pregnant. From the ACLU press release:

In an important decision for the right of women to make their own medical choices, the Florida District Court of Appeal today ruled that the rights of a pregnant woman were violated when she was forced to remain hospitalized against her will after disagreeing with a hospital’s recommended treatment. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of themselves and the American Women’s Medical Association (AMWA) supporting the woman in her case against the state.

“Women do not relinquish their right to determine their own medical care when they become pregnant,” said Diana Kasdan, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who presented oral argument in the case along with Samantha Burton’s attorney, David Abrams of Tallahassee, Florida. “We are glad that the court has upheld the constitutional right of a pregnant woman to make her own medical decisions.”

In March 2009, the Circuit Court of Leon County ordered Burton – a mother of two suffering from pregnancy complications – to be indefinitely confined to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and forced to undergo any and all medical treatments the doctors there deemed necessary to save her fetus. The lower court order forbade her from transferring to another hospital of her own choosing. After three days of state-compelled hospitalization and a compelled cesarean section, Ms. Burton suffered a stillbirth and was released.

So if you’re a pregnant woman, you now have the radical right to choose your own doctor and have a say in your treatmetn, even if a judge thinks he knows better. Radical!!

Kind of crazy, all this rights-upholding going on. It might just lead you to believe we were in the United States or something.

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    I’m guessing that the judge who made the original ruling will be re-elected bya large majority. If the appeals court judges are elected, they’ll be out of a job at the next election.

    The original judge should be confined to a mental hospital and forced to undergo whatever treatment his Doctors feel necessary to save his brain.

    Boxturtle (His mind would seem to be narrow enough to shave with)

  2. fatster says:

    This is amazing. FL historically is not women- and child-rights friendly. And AG McCullom, who is now running to be the Repug governor candidate with the bright promise of “harsher than AZ” immigration practices in FL, was a key figure in the impeachment of Clinton. Strange little man.

    Thank you, Judge Cooper, for this decision which I fervently hope doesn’t get overturned.

  3. beth meacham says:

    After three days of state-compelled hospitalization and a compelled cesarean section, Ms. Burton suffered a stillbirth and was released.

    Wait. She was compelled to undergo an invasive surgery to remove the baby, and the baby died? Looks like murder to me. And lots of malpractice damages.

    • skdadl says:

      A compelled caesarean?!? Unspeakable. I don’t know what to say, except that women are citizens, which makes the assault on her body (she hadn’t consented) criminal, and then, since women are also human beings, the doctors involved were violating their oath.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      The court basically ordered:

      forced to undergo any and all medical treatments the doctors there deemed necessary to save her fetus.

      So, if a csect was the best chance to save the fetus, that’s what the Dr’s HAD to do. As long as they didn’t botch the surgery or cause the fetus to die when it otherwise would have lived, the Dr’s and the hospital are on pretty safe ground.

      The one who committed malpractice was the original judge. But he’s safe from lawsuits for acts on the bench.

      Boxturtle (You womb-bearers may have rights, but you’ve still got no recourse. Angry yet?)

      • skdadl says:

        I have never met a doctor who would perform major surgery without informed consent (emergencies excepted), no matter what some screwy lawyers/judges said. Doctors’ first responsibility is supposed to be to their oath.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          I agree. I would HOPE the Fl medical society, the AMA, or whatever agency accredits hospitals in Fl would look at it.

          But I expect all of the above to defend the Drs involved, not the patient. The AMA might look at it, but find nothing actionable.

          Boxturtle (The judge who so ordered that lady is just plain evil)

  4. Sara says:

    Interesting case. I realize it is in Florida’s State Courts, but I am thinking of the legal principle stated here given the facts of the recent case in Arizona, where the Nun-Administrator got both de-churched and thrown off the Ethics Committee, and out of her administrative job, because she approved a necessary life saving abortion for a mom with four small kids, where both she and her husband wanted the pregnancy terminated. I am looking for a case like this where the legal test would be whether Canon Law trumps State Law where patient choice and good life saving medical care are set against each other cleanly, so the principle can be tested.

    In a sense, I’d like to see charges of “practicing Medicine without a Medical License” laid at the feet of the Bishop.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      In a sense, I’d like to see charges of “practicing Medicine without a Medical License” laid at the feet of the Bishop

      The church would frame it as a moral issue, period. You can’t make some religions accept blood transfusions, even if the alternative is death.

      The Catholic Church has a long history of moral based opposition to abortion. Under church law, she authorized the worst sort of murder.

      Boxturtle (Her stand was moral and right, but NOT catholic)

      • skdadl says:

        Oh, dear. Well, that is not good, and I feel for the guy. It sounds as though he really has been a serious advocate. (Why can’t we have Bill Kuebler back though, plz?)

        What will they do now? They could give Dennis Edney (Khadr’s Canadian adviser on site, of whom Khadr has always approved) standing, but I guess that’s too much to hope for.

        • emptywheel says:

          They’ve already said they’re going to wait for his military lawyer to get well enough to represent him (and yes, it sounds like he’s doing an okay job). It’s not clear whether he needs to leave Gitmo for treatment though, so it’s not clear whether this will be a few days stay w/the press hanging around scuba diving, or whether it will be a more significant delay.

          • skdadl says:

            I do feel for Jackson. (I write as someone who has twice had surgery on her guts, so at the moment my guts are feeling for him too.) As the advocate, he’s prepped and capable and committed, so it’s right to wait for him, and I’m glad they’re doing at least that.

          • bmaz says:

            Jackson, who has been on the case for about a year, is the 12th attorney to defend the now 23-year-old Canadian

            Part of this is due to Khadr himself being flighty (for instance, I thought Kuebler did good work), but jeebus 12 lawyers is just insane.

            • skdadl says:

              Gee, Dad, I hate to disagree with you, but “flighty” is an odd word to use given the history of Khadr’s case (not to mention the abuse he suffered at both Bagram and GTMO).

              Under the earlier forms of the commissions, there were several U.S. military lawyers who came and went more because of the logic of the military (one didn’t have trial experience and resigned; one was disciplined for calling the process a sham and then retired, etc). Kuebler had the longest run and was good, but he got into a dispute last year with his boss, Masciola, whom Kuebler accused of having a conflict of interest; Masciola fired Kuebler; Parrish ordered Kuebler reinstated; Masciola refused/stalled; and after that had gone on for a while, in frustration Omar rejected the whole process, including Kuebler.

              As Kuebler explained to us, some of Omar’s frustration came from being left in the dark so much — it was difficult even for Kuebler to get to see him often enough. eg. Omar knew he was being screwed around (guards confiscating his legal docs for days, eg); he didn’t believe he could get justice; so a couple of times he has briefly staged boycotts. He fired his last U.S. civilian lawyers because they were working on a plea bargain, which Omar refuses to accept — Jackson at least didn’t push that.

              Who looks “flighty” or capricious in that history? I’d say it’s the DoD and its military commissions, no? Khadr has had the same two Canadian lawyers through the whole process, and they are good — I’ve watched Whitling argue before the Supremes, and he’s impressive (he also wins — well, more or less).

              I thought the letter Omar wrote to Edney in which he expressed his lack of faith in the process showed fortitude, not flightiness.

              • bmaz says:

                I do not like in the least what has happened to Khadr. But he is no blameless saint either. I will stick with exactly what I said.

  5. AZ Matt says:

    Gasp! Doesn’t the judge know that men know best!! Shame on this judge for giving this woman rights! I am sure the Conservative Bible says this is not allowed ever! Judge Scalia will soon Right this lefty wrong! ;>

      • AZ Matt says:

        I am/was because you just know the Rethugs can’t stand this kind of thing. They are all watching reruns of Father Knows Best.

    • emptywheel says:

      Someone on my twitter feed from FL said McCollum is considering appealing this–so it might yet escalate.

      Frankly, I don’t think there’s a better way to show what anti-choice positions are about than this case. I remember when it happened, glad they’ve won at least this round.

      • Petrocelli says:

        I wonder if our two countries can have an exchange program … where we swap Judges from time to time, so that your Courts can remember we’re living in the 21st Century.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          You’d accept some of our Judges?!?!

          Boxturtle (Crate ’em and ship ’em before he changes his mind!)

          • Petrocelli says:

            Read my comment @ 18 … and I blame teh Brewskies !

            It’s not such a bad idea, skdadl … I am constantly chatting with those of the religious and spiritual persuasion, who hold lots of hatred towards folks who’re “different” and have had them all consider that they might be wrong.

            That’s a seismic shift from thinking they are infallible.

            • skdadl says:

              So Beverly goes to Washington and sits in for Alito, thereby doing the U.S. a world of good. Alito comes here and sits in on Khadr’s latest challenge, and that accomplishes … precisely what, Petro?

              • Petrocelli says:

                I was thinking more along the lines that the US Judges meet Canuck Judges … I would pay good money to watch Alito get tackled by a couple of our Supremes.

                *I’d like to add that, after 2 Leffes, this is a really wonderful idear*

                Ducks and runs

  6. Mason says:

    We’re missing a lot of information in this case. For example, why was she in court in the first place? I can’t imagine the basis for jurisdiction.

    Was it a civil or criminal case? Was she mentally competent to make a decision? Was she delusional? Did she believe she was carrying Rosemary’s baby and trying to abort it? Had she been civilly committed? Was she in prison?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not attempting to defend the judge or the medical staff. My legal training has my brain stuck on WTF and I want more information.

    I will now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

    AFTERTHOUGHT EDIT: Was she represented by counsel? If not, why not?

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ll have to go back for the exact details, which I followed when it happened. But the short version is that she went to the hospital for an emergency during treatment, they ordered her on bedrest, and bc she had two children w/no one to watch them and couldn’t take the time off work, she said she couldn’t do it, which is when the hospital went to court for a judges order.

  7. tejanarusa says:

    “compelled caesarean section?????”


    I’m sorry, skipping the comments because these words are absolutely stunning.

    The appeals court decision should be a dog-bites-man story. That it isn’t, that we’re celebrating, says volumes about the trashing of our rights in the last 30 years.

  8. Teddy Partridge says:

    I like the Onion story best, though: Pregnant women must paint nursery, choose baby name before being granted permission to abort.

    • demi says:

      Got a link, or do I have to, like go to teh google? Good grief, but unfortunately snark is usually reality based.

  9. arcadesproject says:

    Those of the left may suppose that this woman had some kind of right to choose her own medical treatment. And those of the right may think that she should have been stoned to death on suspicion. But the pragmatic, non-ideological approach is to allow forced medical and surgical treatments of women unless a panel composed of Joe Klein, Charles Krauthammer and Rahm Emmanuel agrees that she can opt out.

  10. Margaret says:

    In March 2009, the Circuit Court of Leon County ordered Burton – a mother of two suffering from pregnancy complications – to be indefinitely confined to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and forced to undergo any and all medical treatments the doctors there deemed necessary to save her fetus

    Just incredible that something like that would happen in this country in the twenty first century. Who needs a better reason to make sure Republicans stay OUT of power?

    • arcadesproject says:

      Alas and a lack of confidence in Democrats, O especially. I think they would bargain away choice in a heart beat.

    • patrickhenrypress says:

      I must have missed where the article mentioned the political affiliation of the judge.

      Both major political parties have foisted right-wing sycophants on us. I’m learning to detest both of them equally.

      Hey, gang! Guess what President Obama sent me today? A form-letter dunning email requesting I commit to voting in the fall election! He’s proud of his accomplishments, and wants me to fear a return to the bad old days of the Bush administration. Bush vs. Bush Lite.

      Dear Rahm,


      So sorry I wasted my money and time donating to your campaign. And, I do want to apologize for offending you by existing. I can assure you, my vote will never be wasted on another DINO, regardless of his pedigree or inspiring oratory.

      Tell your boss I’ll be voting my conscience this year. Sorry if that offends you, him or Robert Gibbs. I just can’t seem to please any of our arrogant, wealthy leaders, or their foul-mouthed hypocritical mouthpieces, these days.


      A ‘Fucking Retard’

      • Twain says:

        I got that same e-mail – best laugh I’ve had this week. I think they are nervous. This is like a poll to see who’s with them. Not me.

        • Kelly Canfield says:

          It’s a replay email of what they did in the CO ground game in the Senate Primary. They did exactly the same thing to get people to commit to a Bennet vote, as strongly as a general election vote.

          They’re testing the commitment level.

        • patrickhenrypress says:

          I’ve been debating how to respond. I suppose venting here beats venting to an intern filtering his nibs’ email.

          Never in my lifetime have I witnessed an administration so hostile to its perceived base before. Not only did they fail to achieve what was expected of them, they have the audacity to essentially point the finger of blame at the grassroots movement within their own party. It’s breathtakingly stupid.

          Yeah, I suppose they are worried. Lately, I’ve found myself wondering whether I care or not. If “free-trade” globalism, eternal war, no jobs, no liberty and no choice in the matter is our future, I say why wait? I’d rather they just exposed themselves for who they are (and who they work for) and got it over with, than be subjected to more of this “frog being slowly boiled alive” treatment.

          It’s the same damn playbook, irregardless of political party, just with different wedge issues. Bush and his rubber-stamp congress never outlawed abortion. Obama and his alleged majority wouldn’t touch single-payer insurance. Gun laws are neither extended nor repealed. Wars go on and expand. Only sheer numbers are altering this formula: gay marriage and marijuana both being legalized in states where the voting blocs cannot be ignored or pandered out of their positions.

          If the President wants me to suspend disbelief and blindly vote for Democrats because I fear his “colleagues,” the Republicans, he’s the one who has been smoking something.

          Stop rendering!
          Stop torturing!
          Get the hell out of Iraq!
          Get the hell out of Afghanistan!
          Get our money back from the banks!
          Quit sucking from the oil teat!

          But, I’m wasting my breath. This President is no different than George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton, IMHO. This is just “compassionate conservatism” wrapped in Democrats’ clothing.

          Will I vote for Boxer over Fiorina? You bet.

          Will I vote for Brown over Whitman? LMAO. Who wouldn’t?

          Would I vote for Feinstein or Obama, were they on the ballot? Frankly, I’d rather go fishing.

          • Kassandra says:

            He smokes cigarettes after taxing them to the moon on the poor..oh yeah, and We pay for them.
            I’ll never forgive him for that. Now I can only afford pipe tobacco. YUK!

          • BayStateLibrul says:

            Isn’t the problem there is no Bobby Kennedy on the horizon to energize

            the progressive left in 2012?

            I like a person who gets angry like Rep Weiner from New York. He is articulate and not afraid of a good rant…

            • bobschacht says:

              Isn’t the problem there is no Bobby Kennedy on the horizon to energize the progressive left in 2012?

              Well, Bobby Kennedy’s son, RFK Jr., is a founding(?) member of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC (, which has over 400,000 members. And they are indeed energizing the progressive left.

              Bob in AZ

        • patrickhenrypress says:

          Almost. They are collecting street addresses on that form. Are they serious?

          To be honest, they’ve heard from me before, on more than one occasion. Their ears might have stopped ringing from my comments on their attitude about the public option. I just don’t seem to have much clout with these guys, LOL.

  11. bobschacht says:

    Rachel Maddow is showing a great segment on the connections between Arizona’s controversial law to deal with undocumented immigrants (SB1070), and a company running Arizona’s private Federal prisons that stand to benefit from large numbers of arrests of undocumented aliens. The governor just happens to have two highly placed advisers with connection to the private prison company that stands to benefit from large numbers of such arrests. This prison company also seems to have very good connections with Arizona’s Republican legislators through its lobbyists.

    Now maybe you understand why Arizona’s governor ginned up this immigration crisis despite 4 years of *improvement* in Arizona’s illegal immigration statistics?

    Bob in AZ

    • bmaz says:

      Brewer is just a puppet, the reason she is all in on SB1070 is because it is her best path to electoral success and she is a kook (although by nature a marginally benign one). Chuck Coughlin, on the other hand, is way deep in the muck and CCA has been ever deeper in his and the Republican state legislature’s pants for two decades or so, the play for immigrant detention business is simply the latest manifestation of it. Coughlin was Fife Symington’s political bag man and, along with another prick by the name of Nathan Lerner, were also behind one time GOP strongman Jeff Groscost (now dead) who were the ones who ran the Alt Fuels scam and scandal that plundered the state treasury to near insolvency back in the 90s. Brewer is simply a figurehead who stumbled into where she is and is just along for the ride. Coughlin is the black hat.

  12. anony says:

    I have to ask: would you still agree with the mother’s right to choose what treatment to have, affecting the child, if the parent were an anti-vaccination nut and the child were already born?