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Ectopic Pregnancy and Emergency Care: Ethical and Legal Issues

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 121-126, 2003

6 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2006  

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Anibal Faùndes

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)

Abstract

Ectopic or tubal pregnancy presents a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment in order to contain risks of maternal death and morbidity, including loss of future fertility. Medical circumstances involving individual patients and resources of the prevailing health care system will determine the options and means of treatment. Termination of ectopic pregnancy does not constitute or directly implicate abortion. Any practice of deliberately delaying treatment of reliably diagnosed ectopic pregnancy, on non-clinical grounds, until rupture of the fallopian tube has occurred or is imminent, in order to justify termination of the ectopic pregnancy on grounds of saving the patient's life, is unethical and illegal. Those who undertake or counsel deliberate delay of medically-indicated treatment can be charged with criminal offences and civil (non-criminal) liability, and medical professional misconduct. On reliable diagnosis, prompt treatment to remove ectopic pregnancy is legally justified, and ethically and legally required.

Keywords: Ectopic pregnancy, Tubal pregnancy, Pregnancy, Emergency care, Methotrexate, Laparotomy, Salpingectomy, Laparoscopy

JEL Classification: I18, K19

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard and Cook, Rebecca J. and Faùndes, Anibal, Ectopic Pregnancy and Emergency Care: Ethical and Legal Issues. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 121-126, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=944917

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Anibal Faùndes

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) ( email )

Brazil

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