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Birth Balance Blog

A series of topics related to preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth, bonding, and post partum issues. Feel free to make suggestions for future topics.

Patients Bill of Rights – Coerced Medical Interventions


On the Birth Plan of all my clients, I suggest they write at the top of the page:  ‘Nothing can be done to myself or my baby without my knowledge and/or permission.’ All too often women are coerced into medical interventions or they are just ‘done to them’ without a discussion or explaination.  It’s time for we women to WAKE UP and STAND UP for our rights.  Please read and pass on to ANYONE who might listen:

Coerced medical interventions on pregnant women:

“Once a patient has been informed of the material risks and benefits
involved with a treatment, test or procedure, that patient has the right to
exercise full autonomy in deciding whether to undergo the treatment, test,
or procedure or whether to make a choice among a variety of treatments,
tests, or procedures. In the exercise of that autonomy, the informed patient
also has the right to refuse to undergo any of these treatments, tests, or
procedures. . . . Performing an operative procedure on a patient without the
patient’s permission can constitute ‘battery’ under common law. In most
circumstances this is a criminal act. . . . Such a refusal [of consent] may
be based on religious beliefs, personal preference, or comfort.” 
ACOG. Informed refusal. Committee Opinion No 237, June 2000.

These legal and medical ethical principles make sense for both women and
children. Doctors are not infallible and their advice is just that, advice.
In addition to the consensus of medical organizations, courts, too, have
long recognized a patient’s right to make health care decisions free from
governmental intrusion. However, in the case of a pregnant woman refusing
potentially beneficial medical treatment for the fetus, the principle has
been too easily set aside, and for dubious reasons.

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