Case Reflection: State Paternalism And Pregnant Women

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Case Reflection: State Paternalism and Pregnant Women

The case of “State Paternalism and Pregnant Women” is overwhelmingly fascinating as well as very controversial. In fact, this case was so controversial it went all the way to the Supreme Court before a decision was finally reached. Personally, I was unsure of where I stood on this specific issue the first time I read it but ultimately I came to agree with the supreme court’s decision that protected the right of pregnant women from being arrested due to positive drug tests that were given to the police, without the patient’s knowledge or consent. Although I find this case very intriguing, I chose this case to do a reflection on based upon the overwhelming amount of ethical questions
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For example, the article states “the ultimate goal of the hospital’s testing program may have been to get women into drug treatment” (Pg. 91, Bioethics Text). This argument could be considered consequentialist because` the disregard for the women’s consent and confidentiality are consequences of the decision to produce a greater good, which in this case would be pressuring the women to get drug treatment or face jail, in order to hopefully prevent damage to the unborn child. The logic behind this argument is not far fetched. Most individuals, including myself, do not condone a woman using drugs during pregnancy but I don’t believe that it is ethical or moral to secretly test someone without consent and essentially ‘blackmail’ them into treatment because of a moral conviction to prevent an unborn child from being potentially …show more content…
The article titled “Denying Autonomy in order to Create it: The Paradox of forcing treatment upon addicts” by Arthur L. Caplan is very relevant to this decision. Caplan states “A person has the fundamental right, well established in medical ethics and in Anglo-American law, to refuse care even if such a refusal shortens their own life or has detrimental consequences for others.”(Caplan, Canvas Reading) . This same principle should continue to apply no matter if a woman is pregnant or not and this principal was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. Though drug use may cause “detrimental’ effects to an unborn fetus, it is not proper to use a paternalistic approach in order to force a mother to stop using drugs and prevent harm. This approach is improper because the professional is taking away the mother's autonomy and ability to deny treatment without consequence. In this case, it is clear that the Supreme Court’s decision favors an agency model rather than a paternalistic model. The supreme court granted women who use drugs while pregnant the right to consent and confidentiality and chooses to ignore the emotions of the medical professionals treating these women. This is considered a ‘pro’ in the agency model because the patient has agency and the doctor cannot make decisions for the patient based on their moral evaluation or

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