As an EMT in the state of Michigan, I transport several people against their will to the hospital. For me to do this legally, there are certain criteria that need to be met. One is that they are not competent to make their own medical decisions. We judge this by asking the patient questions that test their alertness and orientation to person, place, time, and event. If they are unable to answer simple questions, like “what year is it?” and “Who is the president?” when they would normally know this, they are unable to refuse treatment and transportation.
Another instance is if they are deemed a threat to themselves and others. There are many factors that can influence this, such as drugs, alcohol, depression, history of behavioral disorders, general comments made about wishing they were never born to more specific statements about wanting to die. This is considered a behavioral emergency, regardless of if they are fully alert and oriented. The patient is unable to refuse treatment and transport. Because they cannot refuse, we try to offer options for transport, such as if they want to be transported by ambulance or police to the hospital.
But sometimes a person will try to refuse regardless the options presented to him or her. And if they resist, we might have to restrain or sedate them in order to transport them safely.
It doesn’t end there. The hospital will often perform treatment against the patient’s will if deemed incompetent (not alert or oriented) or a threat to themselves or others. Some are forced to stay at the hospital for days while they find placement at a behavioral health facility. I often transport patients from the hospital to behavioral health facilities against their will, as they are court ordered to go. And if a patient refuses to cooperate, the doctor and the courts will decide the patient’ s treatment.
A woman who is pregnant does have bodily autonomy over her own body. However, there is more than one body involved in pregnancy – her body and the body of her son or daughter. The mother has no right to intentionally violate, kill, and destroy the body of her new child.
Some have made the argument that, yes, an embryo is a human, but under the idea of bodily autonomy, the mother should be able to expel the embryo. This is akin to expelling a person from the airlock on a spacecraft into space without any essential equipment. This would be deemed murder in most instances. The uterus is the natural environment of the embryo and fetus where he or she thrives. Unnecessarily thrusting him or her out into a hostile environment to meet certain death is not only wrong, but it’s barbaric.
Bodily autonomy is not absolute. There are times where it is necessary to violate a person’s will. These instances are to protect a person’s health and life. In the case of the pregnant mother, her bodily autonomy does not override the health and life of her unborn son or daughter.
Pro Life Man