... a competent person has a liberty interest in refusing unwanted medical treatment ...
- Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990)
Pregnant and birthing people are frequently denied a range of fundamental rights normally associated with constitutional personhood, including the right to life, physical liberty, bodily integrity, due process of law, equal protection, and religious liberty - based solely on their pregnancy status. This denial of fundamental rights extends to midwives and other health professionals who care for pregnant and birthing families.
The legal problem is compounded by a broken maternity care system that spends more and accomplishes less, while maternal mortality is rising and evidence-based practices are underutilized.
There is a grave need for knowledgeable lawyers, coordinated strategy, and resources. There has been no organization with the capacity to address all these cases. BRBA aims to fill that void by increasing the capacity of lawyer across the country to identify these issues and take on these cases.
Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient's consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages.
- Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hosp., 105 N.E. 92 (N.Y. 1914)
Rights are implicated in the context of childbirth across several areas of the law, including:
BRBA builds the capacity of our members to respond to these issues through continuing legal education, networking, research, and writing. In addition, we track and maintain data, and identify trends and opportunities for strategic action. Using these methods, we aspire to create a systematic approach to address the violations of rights in childbirth.
... in virtually all cases the question of what is to be done is to be decided by the patient — the pregnant woman — on behalf of herself and the fetus.
- In re A.C., 573 A.2d 1235 (1990)