Is there such a thing as free choice?

The documentaries “The Business of Being Born” and “Diagnosing Difference” show that medical professionals and the medical industry give patients such as pregnant women and transgender people an illusion of free choice.  Yet both groups of people suffer from standardized medical practices which enforce a concept of medical and social “normality”.

The women in “The Business of Being Born” were often shown frustrated by the lack of control which they had over their own births.  Medical professionals have determined that it is “normal” to give birth in a hospital and with the oversight of an OB/GYN (Ophelian).  While pregnant women have their own expectations when going into labor, their free choice in how they experience is carried out is overwhelmed by the ideas of “normalcy” and standardization which are privileged by doctors. Transgendered people similarly see their free choice taken away as their attempts to claim gender identities outside the gender binary results in being diagnosed with a “disease” and subject to medical scrutiny.  “Diagnosing Difference” shows that without accepting their gender identity as a “disease”, transgendered people are often denied healthcare they need, and thus they have no choice but to conform to the medical standards which label their gender identity as Gender Identity Disorder.

Pregnant women and transgendered people realize through their own unique experiences that free choice is often an illusion in the medical industry because doctors and medical professionals have authority which makes it difficult for the patient to assert their own will.   Free choice is possible, as is the case for pregnant women who turn to midwives and transgendered people who refuse to believe they have a Gender Identity Disorder, but this assertion of free will requires that patients question medical standards and educate themselves on alternatives to the standardized medical industry.

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One Response to Is there such a thing as free choice?

  1. allied2015 says:

    I agree that science prevents individuals from freely living the way they want to and making decisions based on their personal preference. In another class we discussed “Typhoid Mary”. Mary Mallon was a cook who was the first person in the United States that was identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen related to typhoid fever. Even though she did not have any symptoms related to typhoid fever, physicians identified the pathogen in her body. She was stigmatized and isolated so she would not transfer the pathogen to other people. This example reveals the stigmatization and isolation that medicine instills throughout society. Before the bacterial revolution, Mary Mallon would have lived her life normally, without ever knowing she had the pathogen in her body. In both “Diagnosing Difference” and “The Business of being Born” we see that medical professionals are prohibiting people from living freely without the confines of medical intervention and stigmatization.

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