September 1988

Fetal Neglect as Child Abuse-Reply

Author Affiliations

Sidley and Austin One First National Plaza Chicago, IL 60603

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(9):914. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150090011003

In Reply.—Dr Yawn's letter presents a case in which a young woman, who apparently had knowledge of and access to medical services, did not seek prenatal care until it was too late to save her 23-week-old fetus. It is an example of a sad and frustrating experience that must sometimes be faced by obstetricians and family practitioners, particularly those in areas with residents of low socioeconomic status where routine medical visits are not the norm. However, as I pointed out in my article on wrongful births,1 the question of whether a pregnant woman has a legally enforceable duty to act nonnegligently to protect the health of a fetus she apparently intends to carry to term is not an easy one to answer. Moreover, especially given the unrelenting hostility of the current administration to women's reproductive rights (eg, the new regulations promulgated by the US Department of Health and

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