One of the reasons I have decided to litigate is that the idea that the principles of informed consent and patient autonomy could be wilfully frustrated in favour of achieving other specific goals (reducing c-sections and increasing the rate of VBACs) and saving health care dollars, is really disturbing. When such things are done in the context of pregnant women and their foetuses, people who are vulnerable and very dependent on the healthcare system - it is even more disturbing to me at a foundational level. It sends a message that people, pregnant women, can be violated and abused if it results in achieving other objectives - even those that are just held by an individual care provider or hospital. It makes me cynical. On really bad days, it is down-right depressing.
I believe it is a reprehensible breach of the fiduciary duties that are owed by the state, hospitals and healthcare providers, to their patients and that such actions result in significant emotional and physical harm. I believe it is an abuse of power and amounts to nothing less than battery and assault – state sanctioned torture, if it is not addressed and corrected. I feel as though a stand needs to be taken – and there needs to be a strong disincentive to frustrating a person’s right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice .
I believe the system, and those who work in it have an obligation to facilitate informed consent and to respect patient autonomy – to remember that healthcare should be a service that is done for people and not to them. Further, I do not believe in modern day Canada, that there is any legitimate reason why a woman should be restricted in making medically legitimate and reasonable choice regarding the management of her pregnancy and the delivery of her child. Caesarean birth has a long history and is a proven method of delivering a child, its risks and benefits are known, it is a medically legitimate option. Epidurals also have a long history and are a proven method of managing the pain of childbirth, and similarly its risks and benefits are known, similarly it is a medically legitimate option. Vaginal childbirth and other methods of pain relief are also options for the delivery of a child and the management of labour pain and also come with their own risks and benefits and are also medically legitimate options. I believe a woman is entitled to know what her options are, to be provided accurate information on the risks and benefits of those options, to have access to professional advice and that her decisions regarding those options should be respected and facilitated. I further believe that these services need to be reasonably available, and that access to them should not be arbitrarily withheld where they are available. I believe excellent care providers and hospitals understand that this is a critical element in providing quality care to the mothers and babies they serve - and that hospitals and care providers who do not understand this, need to and that they need to understand it now.
I believe what happend to me needs to be held to account and prevented from happening to other women and their families. Maternity care is not an exception and cannot be an exception.
That’s not to say that the sustainability of the healthcare system isn’t a concern and that endeavours should not be made to save health care dollars, it is and efforts most definitely should be made to save health care dollars – however, that should never come at the cost of misleading patients to make choices that are not in their own best interests and it absolutely should never come at the cost of quality care.