Is there such a thing as free choice?

“The Business of Being Born” and “Diagnosing Difference” focus on the negative interactions between patients and medical institutions regarding the issue of free choice when it comes to reproductive and sexual health in general.  I feel that these films strongly articulate the issue of lack of understanding on the part of medical professionals to grant patients their right to choice over their bodies.  For instance, “The Business of Being Born” tells the stories of women who feel that hospital staff do not allow them to give birth in a natural, comfortable way by forcing the implementation of processes such as synthetic oxytocin and C-section deliveries to speed up the birthing process.  In addition, “Diagnosing Difference” discusses transgender individuals’ frustration with the American Psychiatric Association’s obligatory diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder in order to receive proper healthcare.

While I am a firm believer in the importance of holistic care for individuals, I also recognize the importance of the medical system.  Currently in medical school, students are taught about “cultural competence,” the importance of knowledge and awareness regarding other cultures’ medical practices and beliefs.  However, mothers and transgenders are part of OUR culture!  Physicians and psychiatrists should not only be trained in “culture competence,” but also “social competence” to understand the profound experience of the discovery of one’s sexual identity and motherhood.  It is unfair that in order for the health care system to operate efficiently, patients must feel discriminated against and dehumanized, rather than empowered, by their personal needs and choices.  I hope that the activists featured in this film will not only operate in their own movements, but also reach out to medical schools to address these issues at their origins to claim their right to choose.

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4 Responses to Is there such a thing as free choice?

  1. daniellec94 says:

    While I do agree with you and what you are saying in this post, I think it’s important to remember that with freedom, comes slavery in some form or manner. In politics, we are slaves to the laws passed and governed. In the study of medicine, we are slaves in a similar manner. We are subjects to be tested on in a blooming industry that cares not about how we feel or what we want but rather, our money. We are free until we are born into this world of slavery.

    “The Business of Being Born” and “Diagnosing Difference” both show how we are at the hands of medicine. Why do we have doctors? Hospitals? Or even study people? Because this field of study is a business. Hospitals simply can’t have women give birth in a natural, non-chemical assisted way because women would take too long to deliver a baby and these hospitals use the money made off of their thousands of quick deliveries to pay staff and stay open. If not, hospitals would not be able to stay open and would be forced to close. The same applies to transgender individuals. These individuals, knowing that something is wrong with them, go to a doctor they trust, just to be given treatments at a mental hospital as medicine. Again, why? Because this is simply the easiest and quickest way to make a living off of people in the field of medicine. The objective of the doctors in this field is not to just help people but to make a profit off of these same people.

  2. ldankwa says:

    Even though I agree with the original post’s discussion of how there is a clear lack in adequate celebration of an individual’s motherhood or sexual identity. I think the focus of such arguments should be on the recognition that various medical fields cannot control an individual’s decision. Although it’s true that individuals feel pressured to submissively accept a certain mode of medical care, I think they need to remember that it is their decision that they have to live with. With this in mind, they should make decisions according to their desires and not that of their physician. In the end, patients must remember that the doctor is working for them to assure their comfort. If they do not feel comfortable in the situation, they must assert how they would prefer to be treated.

    Also, I felt that the representation in “The Business of Being Born” was slightly one sided. It made very big generalizations, making it appear as if every OB/GYN cared less about their patient and more about his/her free time after. There are the physicians who joined the field to prevent just that and such efforts should definitely be acknowledged.

    I agree that future physicians should be reminded that the main part of patient care is how cared for that patient feels. By instilling in physicians the significance of every patient, hopefully less hospital workers will approach their patients as items on a list of things to do.

  3. jocelynlc says:

    This is an interesting article (link below) that reiterates just how detrimental this lack of understanding and discrimination can be on a person’s general health. The author, Perez, comments on the health disparities present in the transgender community. Because the transgender population consists of such diverse individuals, Perez asserts that the typical explanation of race as the underlying cause of variation between transgender and non-transgender individuals cannot be applied here. Instead, an explanation for these disparities is due to discrimination in the medical world. Between 15 and 36 percent of transgender peopled report being denied health care (Perez). Furthermore, even if health care is received, it is easy to see how people do not want to subject themselves to uncomfortable situations at the doctor’s office. These factors ultimately lead to increased risk of health problems since a great number of transgender people are not exposed to the non-discriminatory care other Americans receive. The fact that the medical world fails to treat transgender people as human beings and, as you indicated, part of our own culture is something that definitely needs to be addressed through greater education in medical school. Transgender people might have the choice to see physicians, but the reality of discriminatory situations they face subject them to heightened feelings that they are, in fact, aliens in their own culture.

    Perez, Miriam. “How Discrimination Leads to Health Disparities in the Transgender Community.” RH Reality Check. N.p., 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. .

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