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Professor Liz Kukura Offers Perspective to the Press on Judicial Recusal and Obstetric Violence

Professor Elizabeth Kukura

February 07, 2019

Professor Elizabeth Kukura spoke with the media on judicial recusal concerning conflicts of interest and how obstetric violence affects both doctors and patients.

The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Kukura on the recent recusal of Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner from a lawsuit against the Milton Hershey School, based on  his son’s hiring at the school’s defense firm. She explained that it is not only actual bias that poses a problem. 

“We are concerned about actual conflicts of law where there is a bias, and we are concerned about the public perception of a bias,” Kukura said.

Kukura was quoted by Rewire.News on the cause and impact of obstetric violence, where doctors perform procedures without a patient’s fully informed consent. This is done because most lawsuits for bad birth outcomes revolve around failure to act. Kukura explained that when faced with the potential of being charged with battery or with negligence, it often pushes physicians in the direction of defensive care.

The author of “Obstetric Violence,” an article that appeared in the Georgetown Law Review, Kukura said doctors must respect a patient’s informed refusal to receive treatment.

When “we see courts willing to enforce an informed refusal of treatment and say to a woman… ‘This was the decision that you made,’ we might see more physicians following that woman’s informed refusals in a more faithful way,” Kukura said.

A researcher and frequently published author on the intersection of legal issues and reproductive rights and maternal health care, Kukura said that professional standard-setting will help to create the opportunity for advocacy to shape and refine guidelines that provide the standard of care in tort cases.