• shewho

    I was in a NYS clinic program for prenatal care. I lost my right to prenatal healthcare for refusing an ultrasound. NYS said, ‘We can’t tell the doctor what standards to set.’ (Or how quickly to pay off the ultrasound machine, apparently).

    I doubt we’ll see anyone who argues with these surgeons. You have to know, when you walk into an OB/Gyn that you’re talking to a surgical specialist.

  • curtisp


    Forced surgery is akin to violent assault and should not be allowed under any circumstances.  The panel’s views are the moral equivalent of forcing a father to donate a kidney to save the life of his child.  Such beliefs are monstrous and do nothing to contribute to good health care.  Such attitudes create distrust of the medical community, which already runs very deep amongst many women.  To help remedy the situation women should start a coalition of doctors who take a position and sign an oath that, under no circumstances, would they force a pregnant woman to undergo medical treatment against her will. 

  • shewho

    Unless you’re prepared to repay their student loans and pay their malpractice insurance, almost no one will sign your pledge. Even then, the ones that signed probably wouldn’t be very good doctors. 


    Ego is a necessary component of people who make life and death decisions for other people.

  • curtisp

    “Ego is a necessary component of people who make life and death decisions for other people.”

    That is the problem.  It is not the place of doctors to make decisions against the will of patients and those who do cause more harm than good.  The old saying the road to ruin applies here.  Good doctors know this.

  • ctbirthadvocate

    It truly is a sad day in America when we have to actually write about these things. Which is why I wake up everyday with fight in me to help make people know that pregnant women, ARE women and have the rights to make their own choices in their medical care.

    It truly makes me sick that we have to fight for these rights.

  • darby

    I assure you that not every medical student is an arrogant ass concerned only about the green. We are not all drowning in debt or worrying excessively about it, we do not all go into it for the prestige and supposed money and yes, some of us do in fact care highly about patient rights. Many of us are women and are very likely to face these issues as patients ourselves someday. The American Med Edu system is particularly focused on lawsuit avoidance, IME, and that is a true failing, but doctors and med students, like their patients, are human beings too. The good ones don’t forget that.

  • darby

    “Ego is a necessary component of people who make life and death decisions for other people.”

    Except doctors are supposed to make those decisions WITH the patient, not for them. There’s still plenty of lousy old-fashioned practice out there but there’s hope that schools and teaching hospitals are stamping it out.

  • saab93

    Maybe the author should spend some time out of the law library and leave the conferences and spend some time with actual physicians, pregnant women, and fetuses.  Perhaps spending time in reality rather than in self congratulatory theorizing sessions would give her some perspective on what the real, ground level implications are of giving women the right to refuse surgery no matter what the situation is. But that would make too much sense. wouldn’t it.  It’s easier to proselytize and litigate than it is to understand reality.  If it wasn’t for lawyers, doctors and patients could make mutual decisions without worrying about the legal implications of their agreements. As it is, if something bad happens during a VBAC, and the familiy wants to sue, than that doctor and hospital are going to lose because of the precedent set by other lawyers.

  • gem


    taking the position that a physician has an independent obligation to protect a fetus,

    So, where is this physician’s obligation when he is performing an abortion?  Most OB’s do both.



  • rebeccaspence

    saab9-3, thank you for your comment. 


    When you say I need some perspective on what the “ground level implications are of giving women the right to refuse surgery no matter what the situation is” — I wonder—the implications for whom? I have spent a great deal of time on the ground with women who are denied the right to refuse and have stated here what the implications are for them: home birth, sometimes unattended, or forced surgery.


    Perhaps you are referring to the implications for providers, which I also find deeply troubling. Are you saying that it is an acceptable state of affairs for providers and hospitals to operate on non-consenting patients because they are afraid to get sued? I certainly don’t think it is acceptable. If you agree, I hope you’ll stand up and say so. “A lawyer made me do it” might be a reason, but it can’t be an excuse.


    I’m aware of the real medico-legal problems of consent and liability that restrict access to care. I know that the system, and my profession’s role in that system, fails a lot of people. This article says that violating people’s most basic rights to say who can touch their bodies and for what reason isn’t part of the solution.





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