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Pregnant woman death jump prompts soul searching

(CRI Online)    10:29, September 07, 2017

Police say a 26-year-old woman who jumped to her death from the 5th floor of a maternity ward committed suicide.

A 26-year-old woman, surnamed Ma, jumped to her death in a maternity ward. [Photo: Huanqiu.com]

The pregnant woman and her relatives arrived in a hospital in Yulin, Shaanxi province last Wednesday for the birth. She was was already more than 41 weeks pregnant.

According to a statement from the hospital, doctors examined Ma and found that the baby's head was very large, meaning that a normal delivery would probably be too risky, and so they recommended a C-section.

The hospital says the woman and her family refused the surgery, despite the best efforts of the medical staff to convince them.

On the same day, the pregnant woman signed a letter transferring power of attorney to her husband, if case of an emergency, and an important decision was needed while she was unconscious.

The next morning, Ma was transferred to the delivery room, but later she left the room several times because of pain.

The hospital said Ma walked out delivery room to ask her husband to allow a C-section. Her doctor and nurses also advised her husband to allow the surgery, but they say that all requests were rejected.

An hour or so later, a nurse came out of the delivery room and said that Ma had disappeared.

According to Huashang Daily, Ma was found after having fallen from the fifth floor of an inpatient building at about 8 pm on Thursday, and died after attempts to revive her. The police have ruled out foul play.

File photo of the window from which Ma jumped. [Photo: hsw.cn]

Different accounts of what happened?

Speaking to reporters, Huo Junwei, a doctor at the hospital said the pregnant woman had twice walked out of the ward to tell her family that she wanted a cesarean as she could no longer bear the pain, but the family had been reluctant to give the go ahead.

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

Footage from the hospital security camera shows that Ma left the delivery room on three occasions, twice kneeling on the floor, apparently in great pain.

Footage from hospital security camera shows that she walked out of the delivery room three times in great pain, kneeling down twice. [Photo: CCTV footage]

What does the law say?

Under a regulation released by the State Council, China's Cabinet, medical institutions must get consent from patients and a signature from a family member before performing surgery, but doctors can make decisions without their consent in emergencies.

As Ma had signed an authorization letter to transfer power of attorney to her husband on the day she went into the hospital, the doctors only had to ask a family member's permission before carrying out a C-section.

According to China Daily, Gong Xiaoming, a gynecologist at Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, said 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.

File photo of Ma's hospital bed. [Photo: hsw.cn]

Social media outrage

The tragic story has sparked anger online and in social media.

On Sina Weibo, Chinese most used social media platform, the story has not only been widely shared, but has also sparked anger and calls for reform.

"Apart from 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 not a baby-factory, how can people still be so ignorant these days!" reads another comment.

Others, meanwhile, have called for the family to be punished for refusing to give the go ahead to surgery.


Related: Doctor suspended after pregnant woman jumps to death following denial of C-section in northwest China

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hu Ximeng, Bianji)

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