A heavily pregnant woman in China had jumped to her death from a hospital window after her family repeatedly refused to allow her to have a cesarean section, despite doctor recommended so thrice.
The 26-year-old woman, Ms Ma, arrived at the maternity ward of a hospital in Yulin, Shaanxi province last Wednesday (August 30), with a 41-week pregnancy. According to a statement from the hospital, published by China Business News, doctors had examined Ms Ma and found that the fetal head was too large, suggesting that a vaginal delivery would likely be risky. Therefore, they recommended a C-section, according to media reports from China.
However, Ms Ma’s family insisted on a natural birth, refusing to give their permission for a cesarean.
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.
The hospital had repeatedly attempted to get the family to grant consent for the operation, but to no avail, said South China Morning Post.
According to a CCTV footage, Ms Ma had walked out of maternity ward and knelt down to her husband’s family twice, due to the excruciating pain she was going through. Still, the family refused to relent.
At around 8 p.m., Ms Ma jumped from a fifth-floor window of the ward, killing herself and her foetus. Police have ruled that it was a suicide.
Readers have speculated that the refusal is due to financial considerations, as a C-section is significantly more expensive than a natural delivery. This is more prominent in rural regions where majority are not covered by health insurance, which is often subscribed by established companies for their staffers.
The incidence has highlighted that women are still sexually objectified, attracting widespread backlash amongst Chinese netizens and Weibo users who were all up in arms to express their shock and anger towards the tragedy.
“Besides the pregnant woman, there’s no need to ask anyone else their opinion,” reads one Weibo comment with more than 40,000 likes.
“A married woman is a machine for producing babies, how can people still be so ignorant these days!” expressed another comment.
Meanwhile, others have called for the family to face punishment for their refusals.
Today, the family is contesting the hospital’s account of what actually happened.
Ms Ma’s husband, Mr Yan Zhuangzhuang, told the reporters that the hospital is to be blamed, as they assured him the foetus was on the way to be out.
“We didn’t refuse their request for a C-section. We always agree with them.” said the husband, who was criticised for appearing aloof despite his wife’s mishap.
Netizens disagreed, as logically speaking, hospitals are more ready for a cesarean section than anything, to minimise unhappiness and risks of their patients.
It has reported that the hospital had written a statement to warn the condition of Ms Ma, describing Ms Ma’s abnormal umbilical chord, asymmetrical head basin, obstructive dystocia, foetal distress and many other anomalies.
In return, Ms Ma’s family had signed off with “syntocinon drip is requested, with understanding of any accidents.” (shown below).
Some netizens have remarked that syntocinon drip would have caused more pain on Ms Ma as she already had severe uterine contractions.
However, consent had been signed 28 hours before the tragedy took place, shifting skepticism towards loopholes from the hospital, such as their shortfall in failing to prevent suicide from happening.
Police investigations are ongoing.