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Utah Woman Pleads Guilty in Stillborn Case

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Freddie Stubbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:10 PM
Original message
Utah Woman Pleads Guilty in Stillborn Case
Wednesday, April 07, 2004 12:15 p.m. ET

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A woman charged with homicide for refusing to have a Cesarean section that doctors said would have saved her stillborn twin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two child endangerment charges after prosecutors dropped the murder charge.

Melissa Ann Rowland, 28, had been charged with criminal homicide because police said she repeatedly refused to have surgery that would save her twins because she feared being scarred by the operation

"Yes, your honor," Rowland said repeatedly when asked by Judge Dennis Fuchs if she understand the plea agreement.

Rowland, who has a history of mental health problems, delivered twins on Jan. 13. One child, a boy, was stillborn. The other, a girl, survived, but suffered from extreme respiratory distress.

http://wireservice.wired.com/wired/story.asp?section=Br...
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mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. What about manslaughter? This would have been the appropriate charge
IMHO.

Seems quite a drop from "murder" to "child endangerment"? :shrug:

Sad story no matter what.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Nobody has the right to cut your abdomen open
...without your permission if you are conscious and able to give or withhold it. This is MAJOR SURGERY, folks, with a significant risk, a great deal of suffering, and a very long recovery time.

People turn down medical treatment all the time, from JWs who refuse lifesaving blood transfusions to true believer Christian Scientists who refuse everything to elderly folks who have had enough and stop their dialysis treatments. We have this right to refuse any one else's violent invasion of our person against our will.

This woman will never be mother of the year, true, and she's a wholly unsympathetic character as she has been portrayed in the press. However, this doesn't change the fact that she has sovreignty over her own body, despite the fact that a fetus may be parasiting off it.

Are we moving to a society that dictates we undergo major surgery to yield a kidney or lobe of our livers because somebody else needs the "spare" part? How about one in which a married woman is charged with involuntary manslaughter for having menses, since she involuntarily participated in the death of a fertilized ovum if she and her husband had sex?

The suggestion of charging this woman with any sort of wrongful death is scary, to say the least.
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dfong63 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. just suppose
you're a man whose doctor says you need heart bypass surgery. after doing some personal research, you decide instead to go with changes in diet and exercise habits. you're taking a risk of dying and leaving your children without a father. does that now mean that Ashkkkroft can prosecute you?

this is fuking insane.

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TexasBushwhacker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. Very Disturbing
It's disturbing that the reason this woman didn't want a C-section was because she was concerned about the scar, NEVERTHELESS, it is her body, and it is up to her as to whether or not to consent to ANY kind of surgery. This case kicks the door wide open for doctors to insist on women getting C-sections "for the health of the child" and to get a bigger paycheck. And don't say that won't happen. I personally heard a doctor say that he thought ALL births should be done by C-section because it was "easier on the baby". The fact that it was riskier for the mom was not an issue to him.

I have a cousin who resisted having a C-section for hours because she was a big believer in "natural childbirth". Eventually she gave in and had the C-section. Her daughter was having seizures in the first hours of her life. She ended up being profoundly handicapped with cerebral palsy. Would she be handicapped if my cousin had the C-section earlier in the labor? We'll never know, but should she be charged with a crime? Good grief! Their daughter is 22 now and has always been in a wheelchair. She has limited use of her left hand. My cousin and her husband (who are in their late 40's) will have to care for for the rest of their lives. Isn't that enough?
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. The charge I thought was about the cocaine in the baby on autopsy
It follows similar rulings re drug taking in other states re a duty to not on purpose harm the fetus after it is viable outside the womb.
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mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
11. I understand what your saying.
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 01:54 PM by mzmolly
It is a slippery slope.

But I think your comparisons make light of her negligence. Sure she has say over her own body, but she also had two viable humans in her womb, and had a responsibility to them, as she decided to carry them to term.

Here are the definitions according to the dictionary:

manslaughter

The unlawful killing of one human by another without express or implied intent to do injury.

endanger

To expose to harm or danger; imperil.

I guess it comes down to whether or not it was "unlawful"?

I don't think the scenarios you listed below are comparable in any way... sorry.

"Are we moving to a society that dictates we undergo major surgery to yield a kidney or lobe of our livers because somebody else needs the "spare" part? How about one in which a married woman is charged with involuntary manslaughter for having menses, since she involuntarily participated in the death of a fertilized ovum if she and her husband had sex?"

I really wish there were a charge inbetween. :shrug:

This is one of those tough moral questions that there is no perfect solution or answer to IMHO.

Adding I am a mother who is fully in favor of natural childbirth and I resent greatly the power that doctors feel they should have over our personal decisions. As I said, this is an issue that I struggle with a great deal. I have great sympathy for this women and her babes. I have a contempt for Doctors who *bully* vulnerable women in these situations time and time again. Would she have been more trusting if unnecessary C Sections/medical intervention wasn't so prevalent? Who knows...

Again, no perfect soltion to this complex situation as far as I'm concerned.
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The Stranger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
2. Fundamentalists Control the U.S.
Taking a page from "The Handmaid's Tale."
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dfong63 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
4. ashkkkroft is not too great at catching terrorists,
but he's doing a wonderful job of terrorizing young mothers.

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Freddie Stubbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. How was Ashcroft involved?
There was no mention of federal involvement in this case.
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demdave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Rove! Rove! Rove!....he's everywhere....look behind that bush over there..
and..and...in the bottom of my coffee cup. aaaarrrrggghhh I can't get away from him. I went down to the local carryout and they told me they were out of my favorite import beer....DAMN YOU TO HELL ROVE!!!
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hyphenate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:37 PM
Response to Original message
7. Those bastards
They scared her into that guilty plea.

I've read several articles about this poor woman, and not everyone knows the truth. First of all, this poor woman has had mentally handicapped problems for a long time. She has ALSO got two children prior to this birth, which were delivered by C-section. She was in the city because she was giving the infants up for adoption.

No way in HELL would she have simply walked away from a doctor who wanted her to have a C-section--she'd been through that already. Something tells me that it goes way beyond a doctor telling her she needed a C-section.

These bastards don't want to go with a trial, because if they do, it will bring up a LOT of issues and that would hinder the D.A., any of the religious right groups which probably started this mess, and any of the doctors who were likely lying through their teeth in the first place. I only wish someone like Gloria Allred got hold of this, and ran with it. I think people are doing a great disservice to this poor woman, because 1) they told her FAR MORE than saying she needed a C-section and are lying about it, and 2) because her mental faculties are not normal either.

God help us all.
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mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. I don't doubt this at all ...
"I've read several articles about this poor woman, and not everyone knows the truth."

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Cooley Hurd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
13. Hi Freddie
There's an existing LBN thread on this topic. Please continue the discussion here:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Thanks! :hi:
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