Chicago Tribune, 12/17/93 Caesarean case appeal is rejected by Jan Crawford, Tribune Staff

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Chicago Tribune, 12/17/93 Caesarean case appeal is rejected by Jan Crawford, Tribune Staff Writer A complex legal battle over a Chicago woman's refusal to undergo a Caesarean section, even though it could save the life of her unborn child, essentially was settled Thursday when the state's highest court refused to hear the case. The court declined to review a lower court's ruling that the woman should not be forced to submit to surgery in a case that pitted the rights of the woman, referred to in court as "Mother Doe," against those of her fetus. The 22-year-old Chicago woman, now in the 37th week of her pregnancy, refused her doctors' advice to have the surgery because she believes God intended her to deliver the child naturally. The woman's attorneys argued that the operation would violate her constitutional rights to privacy and the free exercise of her religious beliefs. "The court's decision today respects the core fundamental right of a person to refuse medical care because of religious or personal convictions," said Colleen Connell, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the woman. "A woman is not stripped of her religious liberty or personal autonomy because she's pregnant." Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy, the court- appointed representative of the woman's fetus, asked the high court to hear his appeal Wednesday. The Cook County state's attorney's office initially was involved in seeking a court order but decided not to appeal to the state Supreme Court after it lost at the appellate level. Murphy said Thursday afternoon that he would file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to hear the case. He has 90 days to file the petition, but he acknowledged future action would probably come too late. "Obviously, I'm very disappointed," Murphy said of the state Supreme Court's decision. "At least according to positions that have been taken, our client won't be around much longer. We hope those positions are wrong and the fetus is born healthy and not retarded." Doctors say the fetus is not receieving enough oxygen from the placenta and will either die or be retarded unless it is delivered by Caesarean section. Despite that diagnosis, the mother has stressed her faith in God's healing powers and refused doctors' advice to submit to the operation. Confronted with the woman's refusal, her doctor at St. Joseph Hospital contacted the Cook County state's attorney last week for advice. The state's attorney's office then asked a trial judge to appoint it temporary custodian for the mother in order to require her to undergo the operation.


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