Clinical ethics symposium: Choice and autonomy in obstetrics

Decisions about how and where they deliver their baby are extremely important to pregnant women. There are strong ethical norms that women’s autonomy should be respected, and that plans around birth should be personalized.
However, in practice there are profound challenges to respecting women’s choices in pregnancy and in labour. Choices carry risks and consequences to the woman and her child, and potentially to her caregivers and to other women. Procedures and examinations (particularly in emergencies) frequently occur in the absence of fully informed consent.
What does it mean for women’s autonomy be respected in obstetrics? How should health professionals respond to refusals of treatment or to requests for care outside normal guidelines? What are the ethical limits to autonomy?
In this seminar, organised by the Clinical Ethics Advisory Group at the John Radcliffe Hospital, we will explore the ethical challenges around these difficult decisions.