Laura Pemberton: Speaking on Her Experience of a Court-ordered Cesarian Surgery

September 10, 2009

On January 20, 2007, Ms. Laura Pemberton generously spoke at the National Summit to Ensure the Health and Humanity of Pregnant and Birthing Women, held in Atlanta, Georgia.

She spoke about her personal experiences filling in important facts missing from the trial court decision in her case, Pemberton v. Tallahassee Memorial Regional Center, 66 F. Supp. 2d 1247 (N.D. Fla. 1999). The decision in her case was never appealed and exists as a distinct outlier, lacking precedential value outside of the Florida District in which it was decided. Cases that have been decided on appeal and argued with the benefit of a full record and participation by expert amicus (friends of the court) have consistently ruled that women do not lose their civil rights to due process of law, informed consent, bodily integrity, liberty and life because they are pregnant. See See In re A.C., 573 A.2d 1235, 1253 (D.C. 1990) (en banc) (vacating a court-ordered cesarean section that was listed as a contributing factor to the mother’s death on her death certificate); In re Fetus Brown, 689 N.E.2d 397, 400 (Ill. App. Ct. 1997) (overturning a court-ordered blood transfusion of a pregnant woman); In re Baby Boy Doe, 632 N.E.2d 326 (Ill. App. Ct. 1994) (holding that courts may not balance whatever rights a fetus may have against the rights of a competent woman, whose choice to refuse medical treatment as invasive as a cesarean section must be honored even if the choice may be harmful to the fetus).

Ms. Pemberton's presence and presentation at this conference in no way reflects support for any of the views or opinions expressed by other individuals or organizations at this historic event.