Editorial: Florida trampled woman's rights

Today’s St. Petersburg Times has an editorial about a case previously covered here. They write:

Samantha Burton wanted to make her own decisions about her obstetrical care, but the state of Florida wouldn’t let her. Claiming it was protecting her fetus, the state took away her rights as a patient and a citizen and made her a virtual prisoner in a Tallahassee hospital. A state appeals court now considering the case must slam the door on such tactics before other pregnant women are victimized.


Burton, who had broken no law, was essentially imprisoned at Tallahassee Memorial and denied control over her medical care. Three days later, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section, but Burton’s fetus was dead. Now she and her pro bono attorney, David Abrams of Tallahassee, are appealing the original court order to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

The Florida Constitution, with an even stronger guarantee of privacy than the U.S. Constitution, protects the right of adults to make their own medical decisions and maintain autonomy over their bodies. But the Leon County court denied Burton those rights, deciding that the welfare of her fetus was the controlling factor. It used the state’s authority to act as parent when parents won’t get medical care for a child — an irrelevant and improper comparison, since in this case there was no child and the patient was an adult.

The Burton case was an appalling, unconstitutional exercise of state power against an innocent woman. It should not be allowed to stand.

Read the full editorial in the St. Petersburg Times.

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