AT THE NEXUS OF LAW AND ETHICS: A PROPOSED JUDICIAL STANDARD FOR COURT-ORDERED CESAREAN SECTIONS
Maternal-fetal conflicts, specifically court-ordered Cesarean sections, are explored from a legal and ethical perspective. An increase in technology, combined with the rise of bioethics, the respect for autonomy in medical decision-making, and the legal doctrine of informed consent have created an atmosphere in which conflicts may occur between the pregnant woman and her fetus. The scant legal precedent in this area does not provide a clear standard for evaluating cases in which a pregnant woman with a viable fetus refuses a recommended Cesarean section. The analysis first examines the clinical aspects of a Cesarean delivery, and then turns to a discussion of the legal precedent and the potentially analogous areas of law (i.e. abortion, parent-child relationships, and organ donation). In addition, there is an examination of the ethical and policy considerations, which weigh heavily in favor of honoring the pregnant womans wishes over the perceived benefit for the fetus. Finally, a judicial standard is proposed which combines the legal and ethical analyses, and concludes that a court should virtually never override a competent patients decision to refuse a Cesarean section.
Advisor:Anne Schiff; Alan Meisel; Mark Wicclair; Elizabeth Chaitin
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/23/2007