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Letter: Ms S: the need for help and sympathy

Sir: It is well established that a person cannot be forced to undergo medical treatment for the benefit of another. So, for example, a father cannot be compelled to donate his bone-marrow to benefit his child, even if without it the child will almost certainly die.

One then comes to consider the case of a pregnant woman refusing medical treatment, which refusal will result in the death of her unborn child as well as her own. Putting aside the rather vexed question of whether the rights of men to refuse medical treatment are greater than the rights accorded to women in these circumstances, and the clear but difficult conflict between the rights of a woman and her unborn child, can it really be suggested that the rights of a foetus are greater than those of a child with a life-threatening but curable medical complaint?


Gray's Inn

London WC1