if they plan on carrying their children to term? The babies may end up infected with HIV via the mother, and, as I understand it, their risk of infection would be considerably lower if the mother were treated during pregnancy.
A New Jersey trial court in New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Servs. v. L.V., 2005 WL 3527274 (N.J. Super. Ch. Aug. 3), seemed to suggest the women do have such a constitutional right. The court also rested its decision partly on statutory grounds and partly on factual grounds, but it did say that
The right to make that decision [as to what medications she will take during her pregnancy] is part of [the woman's] constitutional right of privacy, which includes her right to control her own body and destiny.
But I wonder whether the abortion right-to-privacy cases, to which the court referred, are quite the right analogy -- why isn't the better analogy the vaccination cases, which have consistently upheld the government's power to vaccinate? The government may demand that I get a vaccine for a communicable disease even when I likely don't yet have that disease. Presumably if I were known to be infected with a communicable disease, and treatment would diminish my chances of spreading it to others, the government would if anything have even more power.
Here, the mother is infected with a communicable disease; and though it's a disease that fortunately isn't spread by casual contact, it is often spread to unborn children. If the mother plans on carrying the child to term -- of producing a born, rights-bearing human being who might have a deadly disease because of exposure through the mother -- why isn't mandating treatment of the mother at least as constitutionally permissible as mandating vaccination?
(I realize that HIV medication may have more harmful side effects than the typical vaccine typically does, but I doubt that this is dispositive as a constitutional matter. Among other things, HIV medication generally also has a more direct positive effect on the recipient than does the typical vaccine. In any case, why isn't a risk of some harmful side effects to the woman justified by the goal of preventing the extraordinarily serious effects -- more or less a sentence to an early and painful death, though with luck modern HIV therapy might commute that in some cases -- to the child whom the woman may infect?)
Related Posts (on one page):
- Pregnancy and Communicable Disease -- A Thought Experiment:
- Do HIV+ Pregnant Women Have a Constitutional Right To Refuse HIV Medication,