Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why I'll Never Have Kids, Part MMMCCXVIII

There exists among many the pernicious idea that if ever a woman catches pregnant, she becomes a mere vessel for the procreation of the fetus, regardless of the woman's wishes or needs.

No, this isn't an abortion-rights story. It's something even scarier:
For three days, a pregnant Samantha Burton was confined to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital against her will, ordered by a Florida court to bed rest and any medical care necessary to sustain her troubled pregnancy.

Burton was in her 25th week of pregnancy in March 2009 when she began to go into premature labor and willingly went to the hospital on the advice of her doctor.

But when the 26-year-old resisted -- learning that she might have to stay months until her delivery, away from two toddlers at home -- hospital officials obtained a court order to force Burton to submit to anything to "preserve the life and health of [her] unborn child."

Anything including the neglect of the children she already has. Burton miscarried three days later, and was released. Had she not lost the baby, she presumably would have remained imprisoned at the hospital until giving birth three months or so later. She's now suing with the help of the ACLU, not for money but to ensure no other woman suffers what she did:
Burton was never offered a second opinion or any compromises, such as a nursing home or less restrictive facility, according to [her lawyer David] Abrams. At one point a friend who lived near the hospital had offered to take Burton in ....When Burton refused to stay, the hospital called the state, which appointed the hospital lawyer to prosecute the case and got an order from the Leon County Court.

Burton was appointed a lawyer "after the fact," said Abrams.

"The court order was so broad it was one of civil commitment," he said. "It basically said any treatment deemed necessary to respect the fetal health and made her a ward of her doctor."

"This was not refusal of medical care, it was about who decides and in what setting," he said. "When I walked into her hospital room I saw no monitor, she was alone in a bland room, not unlike a prison cell, not the kind of place you'd want to spend three months alone in separated from your family."

Burton's doctor, Dr. Jana Bures-Forsthoefel, did not comment on the case or her willingness to forcibly convert adult patients into her legal wards. Nor does the story mention if any of Bures-Forsthoefel's other pregnant patients decided to find themselves another doctor with more respect for their decisions. Lawyers for the hospital and Florida attorney general's office insist they did what was right, good and legal to Protect The Unborn.

What are the implications if this ruling is allowed to stand? Abortion is still legal through the twelfth week of pregnancy, so presumably no doctor could force a woman into hospital confinement then. But the minute she reaches her thirteenth week of pregnancy she cedes all right to make medical decisions -- or even decide where she lives -- if any such decision might threaten the life or health of the fetus.

Of course, the only women who'd risk imprisonment during their last six months of pregnancy are the ones who register on some doctor's radar by seeking regular pre-natal care, as Burton did. The law would make such responsible behavior foolish for any woman worried about her right to live freely at home rather than as a captive. Those valiant protectors of Burton's miscarried child all call themselves "pro-life," but their callous disregard for Samantha Burton, her husband and their two young children shows how clearly they believe "life" not yet out of the incubator is more important than lives already born.


Anonymous Cap'n NoStar said...

The more militaristic a society is, the bigger subsidies it provides to promote birthing the nation's future cannon fodder.

Progressives have always promoted tax breaks and plans like
WIC, Welfare, and free education. From the beginning, American progressives (T. Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR) have been eager for war. Hillary Clinton, who claims the progressive label for herself, was only against the Vietnam war because it affect her generation. She now backs an administration that is more war-mongering than Bush was.

So you see, Jennifer, you are being very selfish and unpatriotic by NOT having children. You will be punished. If not with death or imprisonment, certainly with higher taxes.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

There weren't even any subsidies or incentives for the woman here, NoStar: the court, hospital and doctor basically came out and said "Your rights as a human being take second place to your status as a baby incubator."

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Cap'n NoStar said...

It's called "The carrot and the stick" schtick. A gubmint that can give you all that you want is powerful enough to take all that you have.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

But what about the other side of this nasty little coin. The man. If a women gets pregnant and carries to term against the wishes of the sperm doner society is fully willing to use the full force of government to make the man live up to parental responcibilities that he didn't want. Seems to me that if women want unlimited reproductive liberty then men need to be equaly liberated from the responcibilities of sex.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Cap'n NoStar said...

Come on, Caveman. Be a man. If you play, you gotta pay.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What rights and responsibilities reluctant fathers have is a legitimate question, but one which has nothing to do with the question of whether a pregnant woman retains status as an adult human being, or if she must regress to being a legal ward of her doctor, with no right to disagree with Doc's medical advice.

I hope every patient of DR. JANA BURES-FORSTHOEFEL OF TALLAHASSEE finds another doctor, and also hope the pompous bitch gets sued into bankruptcy. Too bad she can't also be arrested and charged with kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Did I say "pompous" bitch? My bad; I meant "arrogant" bitch.

1:15 PM  
Blogger CrackerLilo said...

That poor woman. They could have tried to help her (like, with care for the children she'd already given birth to) instead of punishing and imprisoning her. They could have, but this would have taken a bit of work. Surely it wouldn't have cost much more money than keeping an uncooperative patient in the hospital.

I guess I shouldn't be, but I'm stunned that a female doctor could find it in her to treat another woman this way. I hope she loses her entire practice and her license. I hope her patients have fled in droves already.

(Came via Positive Liberty comment link.)

2:44 PM  
Anonymous A moose said...

Lawyers are great. This kind of speaks volumes: ""She was having difficulty quitting smoking and wanted to go home to be with the children and not be alone in a hospital room for three months," said Abrams."

Horrible treatment!!!!..well...I really didn't want to quit smoking. I don't think I would have led with that if I were giving the statement. Stronger if you leave it as "She didn't want to be separated from her children, who obviously had the father who was completely incapable of taking care of them during that time." Makes you shake your head sometimes.

That said, if it were the father who was behind the order, that would be much harder to get excited about simply because he should have the same interest in the child as the mother, but that inequality has yet to be remedied so I'm sure some would get excited still. As it is, I can see the state having an interest in, say, women breeding for the purposes of intentionally miscarrying or aborting for satanic rituals. So, there probably is some basis to intervene, but this appears to not be that case.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

If a court can make a man responcible for the likely results of sex then why not make a woman responcible as well? It's a simply matter of what's fair. When a man can walk away from his responciblilty to a child then a woman can do the same but until both can walk away then neither should be able to do so.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Being confined against your will until giving birth is not a likely result of sex, Caveman, so I will say again that what rights and responsibilities reluctant fathers have is a legitimate question, but one which has nothing to do with the question of whether a pregnant woman retains status as an adult human being, or if she must regress to being a legal ward of her doctor, with no right to disagree with Doc's medical advice.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

See, this is what I dislike about women. You will admit enslaving men to the products of a womans womb is not a nice thing but it's no where near as important as the womans right to skip out on her responcibilites.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Grow the hell up. What I'm saying is the topic you've raised has nothing to do with the blog post I wrote. I write about topic A, you want to discuss topic B and when I say I'm not interested at the moment you throw a temper tantrum.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There should be a boycott of this doctor. Perhaps people should write 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

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever heard of HIPPA? of course the dr and hospital can't comment. You state "according to her lawyer" there is so much more to this case and will be revealed when reporters decide to tell the other side of the story. You failed to report that she is at the only hospital with a NICU, and they refused to take her. at least the local paper had some facts. The attorney can say whatever they this point. Did you ask any moms that had pre term deliveries at 25 weeks that now are healthy children. Up to 12 weeks is a fetus. 25 weeks can sustain and thrive it is a person. If this person were release home to miscarry what would she have done with it? Thrown it in a dumpster?

6:37 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Had she miscarried at home, Anonymous Commentator, it would have been a sad event for her, but at least that sadness wouldn't have been exacerbated by the misery of knowing she was imprisoned in a bleak room isolated from her family and at the legal mercy of Dr. Jana M. Bures-Forsthoefel, a physician who violates established medical ethics by ignoring her patient's wishes.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms Jennifer after you read the complete medical record and the court case filed to get all the facts get back to me! You know nothing about this case only what you have read from someone elses reporting. It is actually a very boring due process case. Did she have proper legal representation while decisions were being made to save a viable human being (25 weeks is considered a viable baby not just a fetus) Her attorney who is on an ego trip is making it much more then that By his statements. It is clear the facts stated in the article are not true if they were it would be a travesty..get some sense the judge had full disclosure and made decisions based on that. Reporters only seek one side. The dramatic side it sparks debate and sells papers.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I deleted that last comment myself; the writer was a troll impersonating Ms Burton, and criticized the doctor not for the imprisonment but because the doctor "killed my precious baby boy."

Also, the comment was only two sentences long yet contained 143 exclamation points.

2:49 PM  

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