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Article
April 17, 1991

Legal Intervention During Pregnancy

Author Affiliations

The New York (NY) Hospital Cornell Medical Center
Center for Ethics, Medicine, and Public Issues Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Tex

The New York (NY) Hospital Cornell Medical Center
Center for Ethics, Medicine, and Public Issues Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Tex

JAMA. 1991;265(15):1953. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460150057021
Abstract

To the Editor.—  The Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association1 should be congratulated for addressing the important and controversial topic of legal interventions during pregnancy. We agree with the board's opposition to the use of criminal law to penalize women for substance or alcohol abuse during pregnancy. We could also agree that many court orders have been inappropriate, such as the Angela Carder case.2 We believe that preventive ethics strategies can obviate the need for a court order in most cases.3We disagree, however, with the board's analysis and arguments concerning court-ordered intervention during the intrapartum period. The board understands court-ordered interventions on pregnant women to involve, in most cases, (1) increased risks of morbidity and mortality for pregnant women, ie, those risks associated with cesarean delivery; and (2) physical invasion of the pregnant woman's person, in violation of her right to refuse bodily invasion

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