Lucie Široká, Michaela Povolná
Author’s affiliation: Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague

The Right of a Woman in Labour to Refuse Treatment versus the Child's Right to Life and Health in the Light of the Case-Law of the Czech Constitutional Court and the ECtHR

Jurisprudence 5/2017 Section: Articles Page: 18-28

Keywords: nature of fetus, protection of fetus, rights of woman in labour, maternal-fetal conflict, right to life

Abstract: The paper deals with the issue of conflict of the rights and interests of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, i.e. the maternal-fetal conflict. Within this framework, the authors focus on a specific area of this issue, namely on the conflict between the rights of a pregnant woman and her unborn child during childbirth. These cases of legal conflict are not unique and as such, they generate considerable legal uncertainty not only in pregnant patients themselves, but especially in healthcare providers. The main aim of this paper is to analyze the conflict of interests of a woman in labour and her fetus during childbirth through the optics of relevant legislation and case law. To illustrate the issue at hand, the authors analyze a case of a woman in labour who refuses to undergo a Caesarean section, which is indicated for the patient due to her pathological record of the fetal heartbeat.