‘The Dark Side of Childbirth: A Failure of Both Law and Medicine’

Elizabeth Kukura, Obstetric Violence, 106 Georgetown Law Journal 721 (2018). Recent reporting has drawn public attention to a crisis in US maternity care. Concerns include the extensive use of C-sections and other medical interventions in hospital births, high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, racial disparities in maternal and fetal outcomes, and the increase in planned home births. While many factors contribute to these problems, one rarely acknowledged factor that Professor Elizabeth Kukura highlights in her 2018 article of the same name is the phenomenon of obstetric violence. Examples of obstetric violence include performing interventions (such as C-sections, episiotomies, and artificial rupture of membranes) on birthing patients against their express refusal; coercing patients to accept such interventions by threatening them with withdrawal of care or legal action; physically restraining birthing patients with no medical justification; verbally disrespecting patients in labor; and questioning competent patients’ medical decisions … (more)

[Nadia Sawicki, JOTWELL, 1 October]

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