Sunday, March 14, 2010
Why VBAC Bans are a Violation of Human Rights
VBAC bans are a Human Rights Issue, plain and simple. No one should be forced to have surgery against their will.
Doctors will argue that not offering VBACs is not "forcing" a woman into surgery, but in essence it is if there are no other options in her area for having a VBAC or if the conditions in places that do "offer" VBAC are so restrictive that almost no one will get one.
Doctors need to stop pussyfooting around the issue and quit splitting hairs; if their hospital or practice does not offer VBAC as a choice, they are denying women the right to choose how they give birth, and in essence, FORCING women into surgery. How does that align with the oath of "First, Do No Harm?"
Ideally, women are given true informed consent about VBAC vs. Elective Repeat Cesarean Section (ERCS), and their choices are honored. Of course, sometimes that does happen; but far too often women's decisions for VBAC are not honored, and their choices are taken from them.
Sometimes women are literally bulled into repeat cesareans with threats (like calling Child Protective Services). Sometimes they labor at home and go in pushing.....only to be put under anesthesia and forced into a repeat section when they get to the hospital. (Yes, I know women to whom this has happened.)
More often women are seduced into repeat cesareans with distorted information about risks of VBACs vs. cesareans, inaccurately gloomy assessments of their ability to VBAC, or scare tactics about possible complications of VBAC without similar information about possible complications of repeat cesareans.
Talking people into potentially harmful interventions without fair and balanced informed consent -- and the freedom to refuse the intervention -- is a human rights violation.
In no other situation is a person forced to undergo surgery for the benefit of another person. Furthermore, one could argue that with VBACs, people are being forced to undergo surgery for the medico-legal security and the financial benefit of others.
This is such a complete and total breach of medical ethics it's breathtaking.....and yet many doctors, hospital administrators, and insurance company officials readily advocate it. They refuse to see the implications of their decisions and policies.
Everyone has the right to bodily integrity and to informed decision-making. No one should be able to take that right from you, not "even" during childbearing.
Violence and intimidation against women does not just occur via domestic violence or rape. Unfortunately, it also happens during childbearing, but our society does not view it as an abuse of rights....but it is.
It's time to see VBAC bans as the human rights violation that they are.
Shame on ACOG, and shame on the doctors and hospitals who are going along with these bans.