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In re Fetus Brown

689 N.E.2d 397 (1997)

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In re Fetus Brown

Illinois Appellate Court

689 N.E.2d 397 (1997)

Facts

Darlene Brown (plaintiff), who was almost 35 weeks pregnant, underwent surgery to remove a urethral mass. Following the operation, Brown’s physician determined that there was a 95 percent chance that both Brown and her fetus would die if Brown did not have a blood transfusion. Brown refused to consent to the blood transfusion on religious grounds as a competent adult. The State of Illinois (defendant) filed a petition for adjudication of wardship and a motion for temporary custody of the fetus pursuant to the Illinois Juvenile Court Act. The trial court granted the state’s petition and named the hospital administrator as the temporary custodian of the fetus. The hospital administrator consented to a blood transfusion for Brown on behalf of the viable fetus. Brown resisted the transfusion and claimed that hospital physicians raised their voices at her, forcibly restrained her, overpowered her, and sedated her to perform the transfusion. Brown delivered a healthy baby, and the hospital discharged Brown and the baby. The trial court held a status hearing and vacated the temporary custody order. Brown filed an appeal to challenge the validity of the trial court’s temporary custody order that had allowed the hospital administrator to consent on Brown’s behalf to a blood transfusion. Brown claimed that she had an absolute right under federal and Illinois law as a competent adult to refuse medical advice and treatment. The state argued that its substantial interest in the viable fetus outweighed the minimal invasiveness of the blood transfusion. The appeals court considered the validity of the trial court’s temporary custody order as a matter of public policy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Theis, J.)

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