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Russia: Mum awaits judgement on medical student labour pains

A Russian mum, forced to give birth in front of medical students, will find out later this week whether her Strasbourg judges back her human rights protest.

The European Court of Human Rights will anounce its ruling in the complaint Konovalova v. Russia (no. 37873/04) on Thursday 9 October.

The applicant, Yevgeniya Konovalova, is a Russian national who was born in 1980 and lives in St Petersburg (Russia).

The case concerns Konovalova’s complaint that medical students were allowed to observe her giving birth, without her explicit consent.

Konovalova, who was pregnant, was hospitalised in the S.M. Kirov Military Medical Academy Hospital on 23 April 1999 after her contractions had begun. Following her admission she was allegedly handed a booklet issued by the hospital which contained a notice warning patients about their possible involvement in the clinical teaching taking place at the hospital.

Konovalova was suffering from complications associated with her pregnancy and was, on two separate occasions, put into a drug-induced sleep because she was suffering from fatigue. She alleges that she was informed prior to being sedated that her delivery was scheduled for the next day and that it would be attended by medical students. On 24 April 1999 she gave birth in the presence of medical students who had been briefed about her health and medical treatment.

She subsequently brought proceedings in the St Petersburg Vyborg District Court, seeking compensation for the presence of non-authorised third parties at the birth and an apology for the intentional delay to her labour.

Her claim was dismissed on basis of an expert report commissioned by the District Court which stated that her care and treatment had been adequate. This decision was upheld on appeal in May 2004.

Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Konovalova complains about the unauthorised presence of medical students during the birth of her child, alleging that she had not given written consent to being observed and was barely conscious when told of such arrangements.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), she also complains that the
management of the birth was deficient and that her delivery had been intentionally delayed so that
medical students could be present.

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