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