Friday, March 12, 2004

Maternal-fetal conflict results in murder charge against mother.

Perhaps I should reserve judgment until more facts come to light, but it is certainly a shock to see that a Salt Lake County woman has been charged with murdering her stillborn son because of her refusal to follow her doctor's recommendation and have her twins delivered by C-section. See news story and follow-up (The Salt Lake Tribune -- Charge against W. Jordan mother creates legal challenge). This is a very long way from the D.C. Court of Appeals' approach in In re AC: "What a trial court must do in a case such as this is to determine, if possible, whether the patient is capable of making an informed decision about the course of her medical treatment. If she is, and if she makes such a decision, her wishes will control in virtually all cases. If the court finds that the patient is incapable of making an informed consent (and thus incompetent), then the court must make a substituted judgment. This means that the court must ascertain as best it can what the patient would do if faced with the particular treatment question. Again, in virtually all cases the decision of the patient, albeit discerned through the mechanism of substituted judgment, will control. We do not quite foreclose the possibility that a conflicting state interest may be so compelling that the patient's wishes must yield, but we anticipate that such cases will be extremely rare and truly exceptional. This is not such a case."
posted by Tom Mayo, 9:11 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter