Eugene Volokh has posted an interesting pregnancy thought experiment in which a pregnant woman can be forced to receive medical treatment to prevent her from infecting others' unborn babies with a deadly disease but cannot be forced to receive medical treatment to prevent her from infecting her own unborn baby with a deadly disease.
Say that Moe's [the mother] child grows up to be, say, ten, but is clearly dying by then. She's not just a fetus or even an infant. She can talk, and ask questions. Here's how the conversation goes:Child: "Why am I dying?"
You: "Because you got a deadly infection from your mother. Your mother could have taken steps that may well have saved your life, but because of her idiosyncratic view of medicine, she chose not to."
Child: "But wait, why didn't someone stop her from doing this to me?"
You: "Oh, we couldn't do that: She had a constitutional right to infect you with a deadly disease, with no interference from anyone else."
Child: "So if someone is walking around with a communicable disease that would cause birth defects in other people's children, he has a legal right to keep doing that."
You: "Of course not; we could mandate that he be vaccinated, or otherwise treated. But that's only when he's infecting other people's children. When a women is infecting her own child who's still in her womb, she has a constitutional right to do that."
Can that really be right?
No, of course it can't.