Arguments in Favor of Coercing a Pregnant Woman to Act in the Interests of her Future Child
When a pregnant woman acts or fails to act (including refusing medical care) in a way that will harm the child she intends to bear, her physician has five courses of action available: accept her decision and treat her accordingly; transfer her to another physician who will accede to her wishes; try to persuade her to accept his recommendation; negotiate a compromise plan of action; or ask a court to order her to comply with the recommended treatment. Overriding a mentally competent woman’s right to refuse treatment without prior court approval is not a viable alternative: Not only would this course of action violate her rights, but it would expose the physician to civil and criminal liability.1
KeywordsPregnant Woman Moral Obligation Legal Obligation Criminal Liability Future Child
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