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Kant, Mills, and Ethics, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 579

Essay

Abstract

The Supreme Court has ruled that physicians and other employees of public hospitals cannot perform drug tests on pregnant women without their consent and report the results to the police. The policy for testing pregnant women developed by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston violates the Fourth Amendment.

Hospitals should test pregnant women for drug use without their consent

Supreme Court rules hospital’s policy is unconstitutional, but leaves unanswered whether there are conditions under which medical privacy can be justifiably invaded. According to the ruling, the physicians and other employees of public hospitals cannot perform drug tests on pregnant women without their consent and report the results to the police. In a 6-3decision, the court found that a policy developed by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston that led to the arrest of pregnant women and new mothers who tested positive for cocaine use violates the Fourth Amendment. According to the American Medical news the ruling substantiates the confidential relationship between a patient and physician. Two lower courts had held that a pregnant woman’s use of cocaine creates a special need beyond normal law enforcement goals and that the Charleston policy advanced this public interest with minimal intrusion. But the program on the real sense was meant to focus on the women into substance abuse treatment and off the drugs. Moreover, the immediate objective of the searches was to generate evidence for law enforcement purposes in order to reach that goal. Medical professionals emphasized that the court’s finding in this case strengthens the fiduciary relationship of doctors to their patients.

The physician really is required to be the agent of the patient, and responsibilities of law enforcement are simply incompatible with that role. But the decision did not resolve whether the women who brought the case consented to the drug tests when they gave broad consent to receive care and instead remanded this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Further, the court did not address whether there are conditions under which medical privacy can be justifiably invaded or if harming a fetus is the same thing as harming a child. South Carolina law regards a viable fetus as a person. Further, the state Supreme Court held in1995 that a woman’s uses of cocaine during the third trimester of pregnancyconstitutes criminal child neglect. This appears not to succeed as the court proceeds with the prosecution of the case since the usual search and seizure requirements must be followed by the law enforcement and that the drug tests cannot be performed without either obtaining a search warrant or the individual’s consent.

Most health professionals now agree that the habitual use of alcohol and tobacco, two substances that were not part of the testing program, pose a significantly greater risk to fetal health than cocaine. Further, the threat of incarceration has not been shown to counter drug use among pregnant women. Its more likely effect is to deter these women from seeking necessary prenatal care. This is why when women take illicit drugs, she needs to be treated compassion and respect and maintain their dignity. According to the explanations, the hospitals should test pregnant women for drug use without their consent in order to save their lives as well as their children. Therefore, there will be no one hurt since every body will be safe.

References

Drug tests of non-consenting pregnant women quashed. American Medical News. Chicago; Apr 9, 2001; Vida Foubister.

Synthia, R. (2002). Pregnant Women and the Drugs. Routledge: London Publishers Press.

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