January 11, 2010

Brandon Hensler, ACLU of Florida 786-363-2737,; or
Lorraine Kenny, National ACLU (212) 549-2634

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union will argue in the First District Court of Appeal as friends of the court in support of Samantha Burton who was confined to a hospital bed, against her will, after disagreeing with her doctor's recommendations for treating pregnancy complications last year.

In March 2009, the Circuit Court of Leon County ordered Ms. Burton – a pregnant mother of two – to be indefinitely confined to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and forced to undergo any and all medical treatments deemed necessary to save her fetus. After three days of state-compelled hospitalization, Ms. Burton miscarried and was released from the hospital.

In August 2009, Ms. Burton asked the court to overturn the lower court’s decision to compel her to undergo medical treatment, stating that her rights had been violated.

The ACLU will argue on Tuesday that the lower court’s decision invites courts to impermissibly intervene in nearly all aspects of a pregnant woman’s behavior and medical judgments. The result: some women will be discouraged from coming to a hospital for pregnancy care if they know that any disagreement may lead to forced medical treatment.

The ACLU’s brief is available at:

Video of Tuesday’s argument will be available live at:

Argument in Burton v. Florida, No. ID09-1958, a case involving the forced medical treatment of pregnant women.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010, at 9:00 a.m.

First District Court of Appeal
301 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Tallahassee, FL

WHO: Available for comment immediately following the argument:

David H. Abrams will argue on behalf of appellant, Samantha Burton.
Diana Kasdan, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, will argue on behalf of amici: the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, and the American Medical Women’s Association.

2010 Press Releases