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29.04.2019 | Original Article Open Access

Why the Elective Caesarean Lottery is Ethically Impermissible

Health Care Analysis
Elizabeth Chloe Romanis
Wichtige Hinweise

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In the United Kingdom the law and medical guidance is supportive of women making choices in childbirth. NICE guidelines are explicit that a competent woman’s informed request for MRCS (elective caesarean in the absence of any clinical indications) should be respected. However, in reality pregnant women are routinely denied MRCS. In this paper I consider whether there is sufficient justification for restricting MRCS. The physical and emotive significance of childbirth as an event in a woman’s life cannot be understated. It is, therefore, concerning that women are having their wishes ignored, and we must ascertain whether the denial of agency is justifiable. To answer this question I first demonstrate that access to MRCS is a lottery in the UK. Second, I argue that there is nothing unique about pregnancy that displaces the ethical norm of respecting patents’ sufficiently autonomous choices. Thus, the starting presumption is that all informed choices regarding MRCS should be respected. To ascertain whether any restriction of MRCS is justifiable the burden of proof must be placed on those who argue that MRCS is ethically impermissible. I argue that the most common justifications in the literature against MRCS are insufficient to displace the presumption in favour of autonomous choice in childbirth. I conclude that MRCS should be available to pregnant women, and we must strive to reduce the lottery in access to choice.

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