Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

world

Fla. woman fights forced hospitalization

Samantha Burton wanted to leave the hospital. Her doctor strongly disagreed, enough to go to court to keep her there.

She smoked cigarettes during the first six months of her pregnancy and was admitted on a false alarm of premature labor. Her doctor argued she was risking a miscarriage if she didn’t quit smoking immediately and stay on bed rest in the hospital, and a judge agreed.

Three days after the judge ordered her not to leave the hospital, Burton delivered a stillborn fetus by cesarean section.

And six months after the pregnancy ended, the dispute over the legal move to keep her in the hospital continues, raising questions about where a mother’s right to decide her own medical treatment ends and the priority of protecting a fetus begins.

“The entire experience was horrible and I am still very upset about it,” Burton said through her lawyer. “I hope nobody else has to go through what I went through.”

Burton, who declined to be interviewed, is appealing the judge’s order. She isn’t asking for money but hopes to keep her case from setting a precedent for legal control over women with problem pregnancies.

State Attorney Willie Meggs stands by his decision to seek the court order after being contacted by the hospital.

“This is good people trying to do things in a right fashion to save lives,” he said, “whether some people want them saved or not.”

Burton is in her late 20s, has two young daughters and a common-law husband and holds down a blue-collar job, her lawyer, David Abrams said. She didn’t want an abortion, had obtained prenatal care and voluntarily went to the hospital after experiencing symptoms she’d been told to look out for, he said.

Get stories like this in your inbox
Subscribe