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Ladies, Your Uterus Belongs To The State

This is scary...

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - As Melissa Ann Rowland's unborn twins got closer to birth, doctors repeatedly told her they would likely die if she did not have a Caesarean section. She refused, and one later was stillborn.

Authorities charged 28-year-old Rowland with murder on Thursday, saying she exhibited "depraved indifference to human life," according to court documents. One nurse told police that Rowland said she would rather "lose one of the babies than be cut like that."

The case could affect abortion rights and open the door to the prosecution of mothers who smoke or don't follow their obstetrician's diet, said Marguerite Driessen, a law professor at Brigham Young University.

"It's very troubling to have somebody come in and say we're going to charge this mother for murder because we don't like the choices she made," she said.

From the looks of her, the mother in this case may be a little "odd", but these charges are ridiculous. C-section's are massively over performed in this country. While a C-section in this case may have been the best option it certainly was not the only option.

Babies and even mothers occasionally die during childbirth. That is a law of nature. The fact that medical advances saves more preemies and breach babies doesn't make failure to blindly submit to medical technology a crime. The technology that allows earlier and earlier preemies to survive is an example of medical technology that saves babies that 30 years ago would not have lived. Studies have shown that extra low birth weight preemies who do survive can have a variety of life long medical problems.

The farther you pull back from any one individual case you can see that throughout history there have been (and always will be) babies that won't survive childbirth or early infancy for any number of reasons. It's heartbreaking, for sure, but it's also a fact. Criminalizing the designed workings of reproductive biology isn't going to change it either.

Update: Rowland denies turning down a C-section.

"I've never refused a C-section. I've already had two prior C-sections. Why would I say something like that?".


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Comments (12)

A few years ago here in the... (Below threshold)
gia:

A few years ago here in the UK, two separate women in two different hospitals were given caesarians without their consent. The doctors involved felt that because the woman was in labor she was unable to make the right decision concerning the birth of her child. Essentially, the doctors has decided that the women were insane. So the doctors performed a not inconsiderable abdominal surgery on them without *anyone's* permission.

Very scary...

BS.If she had reli... (Below threshold)
GE:

BS.

If she had religious objections to undergoing surgery, that's one thing.

But this little murderer had no such objections. She just afraid of surgery or didn't want to have a scar... so she let her kid die. How can you possibly defend that?

I basically agree wtih GE. ... (Below threshold)

I basically agree wtih GE. Now as a matter of reality, there's no chance of this going anywhere. Some prosecutor in a conservative district is just gunning for reelection. The abortion law in this country means that this mother could do anything she wanted with these kids before they were born, for any reason. The prosecution doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.

What this woman did was morally equivalent to abortion. That's not a crime in this country. If you think there's nothing wrong with abortion, then you'll think that there was nothing wrong with this woman's choice. If you think abortion is murder (as I do), then you'll think this woman is horrible.

Even thinking that, though, this was a stupid charge given the state of the law, and will be speedily dismissed.

Taking your views of aborti... (Below threshold)
Mac:

Taking your views of abortion out of the equation, let's look at it this way: this is the equivalent of being charged with attempted murder [or possibly assisted suicided] because you're overweight or because you smoke.

The idea of it is ridiculous.

What's "ridiculous" is sayi... (Below threshold)

What's "ridiculous" is saying something like, "Taking your views of abortion out of the equation." That's impossible. In fact, it's clear that what you mean, Mac, is that you want those who disagree with you to, "assume that a baby before birth isn't a human being." I have no quarrel with your right to hold that view, but please have the decncy not to ask the rest of us to accept your opinions as the starting point for our debate.

Would you think it fair if I argued: "Take your views on choice out of the equation. This is the equivalent of being charged for preventing your child from getting lifesaving medical treatment because you didn't want your child to miss summer camp." That's just as unfair an argument.

There is no way to evaluate this story without asking questions about whether a baby/fetus is a person, and how the mother's rights should be weighed against those of the baby/fetus. That's the same debate that we have about abortion. If you say that you want your opponents to "set aside" their views on abortion, you're essentially asking them to unilaterally disarm and concede the argument before it begins.

This story frightens me for... (Below threshold)

This story frightens me for a number of reasons.

One, not that the media is ever BIASED or anything, but the few comments I've seen attributed to the mother do little to establish WHY she did not want the C-section. Call me crazy, but I am unconvinced there isn't more to the story.

Also, let's assume for the sake of argument that she refused the procedure on purely cosmetic grounds. Despite the fact that I am a pro-choice woman, I have to ask: WHY would a woman effectively choose to (potentially) end a pregnancy she (presumably) wanted? It makes no sense, leading me to question her mental state. And where was her husband through all this? Shades of Andrea Yates, here.

Lastly, where does the line get drawn between a woman having control over her body, and the state? I do not want to see women who are pregnant, who wish to have abortions, unable to do so because of a woman like this. To me, there is a world of difference between Rowland's actions and a woman terminating a pregnancy early, well before the advanced fetal development stages.

We don't have enough inform... (Below threshold)

We don't have enough information to judge. Twins are born every day without c-sections, and have been forever. Just because the c-section is recommended doesn't mean it's the only option. In this case, a tragedy happened, but hindsight is 20/20. The mother may be a selfish and vain witch, or she may be someone who objects to uneccessary surgery. And uneccessary surgery happens all the time.

Bad situation all around.

All 3 of my kids born c-section, first by emergency, next 2 without choice given by military doctors.

This may surprise some folk... (Below threshold)
Fritz:

This may surprise some folks, but doctor's often lie to cover their butts.

A doctor reported friends of mine to the local child protection agency when his treatment of their child's ear infections resulted in deafness. He falsely accused them of deliberately not following his instructions.

I knew this to be false and so did several other people who were close to the family. The mother was very concerned that the doctor was not providing proper treatment and got a second opinion. When she confronted the doctor and threatened legal action, he made a preemptive strike.

I have had four children an... (Below threshold)
Teri:

I have had four children and one miscarriage. I am passionately pro-life, althought not purely because I do recognize that there are rare situations where an abortion would be appropriate. So I don't really have an ideological home. I love babies, I would do anything for them.

And yet, I feel nothing but compassion for this woman. I am astounded at people who so superficially judge that this woman should have had an operation. I have a serious phobia about knives, and the thought of a C-section gives me the creeps. During my first pregnancy, I read and studied and did everything I did to try to avoid a situation where a C-section might be necessary.

It's surgery, folks, serious surgery, and the fact that it is frequently performed does not take away the fact that it is surgery and carries every possible risk that you can imagine. I heard a male commentator today claim that this surgery carried no risk whatsoever for the the mother - wrong, wrong, wrong! The fact that she had already had two C-sections means that her abdominal musculature had already been compromised. There's no zipper there.

And, I don't know anyone who makes important decisions for one reason. I think a lot about important things like childbirth and child raising and even what kind of car to buy. I can guarantee you that whatever I choose to do, I have six or sixteen reasons for it.

I feel pretty sure that this woman had many reasons for the action she took, some of them quite serious and some of them quite trivial. You have the testimony of one nurse regarding one thing that this woman supposedly said about why she didn't want a C-section. Can you even imagine that it is the only reason? I can certainly imagine in the tension of the last few weeks of pregnancy, especially a difficult twin pregnancy, that I might say a lot of silly things out of nervousness.

The notion that the state - the government - could compel a person to be cut open with a knife, for no crime other than having a difficult health issue, is the scariest thing I've heard in a long time. I'm a person who devoutly wishes that women who are contemplating abortions would find it within themselves to make the sacrifice to carry the baby and give it up for adoption - but would I force that on someone? No way!

This has got to be the creepiest thing that has come down the pike in a long, long time. I just cannot believe that people are so ready to convict this woman just on hearsay.

Considering that the mothe... (Below threshold)
Peter:

Considering that the mother has already got scars from previous C-section(s?) the original claim that she refused because of vanity doesn't hold water.
I understand that the Child Abductive Services have removed her other child(ren?), I would bet these charges are simply a way to buttress that case.

hmmmm-- Well, to paraphrase... (Below threshold)
Paul:

hmmmm-- Well, to paraphrase that old line from Gone with the Wind, I don't know much about birthin' no babies.

BUT...

It is my understanding that if you have had a section before it is pretty much a given the Docs what you have have all the rest that way. If you have 2 sections it is all but etched in stone.

If you have 2 AND you have twins, I think the section would have been demanded by any OB-GYN out there. (says me who ain't one)

I might be wrong on that but I don't think so.

They guy that said there is more to this story probably is right.

What possible good would fr... (Below threshold)
Bill:

What possible good would from sending this woman to jail?
In Australia about 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriages, should all these women be charged?
Do doctors get charged with murder when someone dies due to medical stupidity?
What was the figure, 250,000+ people dying annually in the US during surgery.
Bring on the theraputic police state.




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