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Pregnant woman dies after family refuse to give consent over caesarean section
Published on: 2017-09-07
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It was almost time for her to possibly witness the birth of her child, but one pregnant woman in China reportedly chose to end her own life first.

The tragic incident occurred last week in Shaanxi Province. Surnamed Ma, the 26-year-old woman reportedly committed suicide after her next-of-kin reportedly refused to give their consent to let her have a caesarean section.

She was "over 41 weeks pregnant with her first child", said a statement issued by Yulin No 1 Hospital, where she had been admitted to the maternity ward.

"The large fetal head circumference meant that vaginal delivery would have been very risky," the statement continued.

Delivery by caesarean section would be safer for Ma, according to her doctors' suggestions, but the woman's family insisted on a natural birth.

Under Chinese law, medical institutions must get consent from patients and a signature from a family member before any medical surgery is carried out, based on a regulation released by the State Council, China's Cabinet. But doctors can make decisions without consent in emergencies.

Ma had walked out of the maternity ward twice, to inform her family that she wanted a caesarean because she could no longer bear the pain, according to hospital records.

Hospital staff managed to persuade Ma to return to the ward and tried to convince the family to let her undergo surgery, but to no avail.

However, the family continued to refuse surgery despite understanding its requirements and preferred to "continue monitoring the situation".

Later that night, the heavily pregnant woman jumped to her death from a fifth floor window in the maternity ward she was in. Both mother and child were killed.

But now, the family is contesting the hospital's account of what actually happened. Yan Zhuangzhuang, Ma's husband, said in a statement that his wife had asked to have a C-section and that he had agreed immediately.

The husband's statement said the doctor checked Ma's condition and said she was going to give birth soon and did not need a C-section.

The incident has attracted widespread backlash amongst Chinese netizens and Weibo users were all up in arms as they expressed their shock and anger towards the tragedy.

It renewed calls for women to be given more rights. One of the most-liked comments on Weibo read: "Besides the pregnant woman, nobody else should have had a say."

Gong Xiaoming, a gynecologist at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital said that pregnant women should have the right to decide whether to have a natural birth or C-section.

"In reality, in many cases in China the decision to have a C-section is made by the patients' family members and the doctors," he said.

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