What is free choice?

Choices made about a woman’s pregnancy are intended to be personal. Each individual has the right to his or her own body and to decide what happens to it. However, these choices regarding pregnancy procedures are more often now made for the patient regardless of her original desires. Some women go into their pregnancy expecting a typical vaginal birth delivery, free of medication, and with the expectation for a cesarean section only in an emergency. This emergency being that the baby’s life is in danger. As seen in The Business of being born, Cesarean sections are becoming the norm.

Women are being convinced to take medicine that can induce labor, but even more invading on personal freedoms, medicine to take away pain than a woman was prepared to face as part of her journey. This pain medication often leads to complications, causing the avoidable emergency. The film leads us to believe that the persistent doctors who prescribe the pain medication take away our free choice. Statements such as “Women who request an epidural have more severe pain and/or larger babies, which are predictive of difficult labors that may have required a C-section anyway,”(Cynthia Wong, M.D), are emphasized in the film to be excuses for a C-section that could have been avoided. These caesarean sections are often done out of convenience for the doctors. Joy Szabo, “now pregnant with her fourth child, is being forced to have a caesarean due to lack of hospital staffing”(Mary Forney, CNN iReport). When the freedom to make a personal decision regarding ones body is disregarded, I question if choice will remain as a supposed right in the future.


Epstein, Abby, Amy Slotnick, Paulo Netto, Ricki Lake, Madeleine Gavin, and André Pluess. The Business of Being Born. Burbank, Calif.: New Line Home Entertainment, 2008.





This entry was posted in Big Question Reflection and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What is free choice?

  1. madiae says:

    I also agree with you about the choices given to women once they are in labor. When my mother was giving birth to one of my older brothers she had a very disturbing time. My brother was born late at night, so naturally the doctor probably wanted my mother to give birth quickly so that he could leave. To help my brother come out quicker he used a suction tool to help pull him out and told my mom that the use of the tool was necessary. While my brother is absolutely fine, there was a chance that he could have suffered from some sort of complications due to the use of that tool. This is another example of an unnecessary and potentially harmful birthing aid employed by doctors to save time.
    It is important for mothers-to-be to be prepared and do extensive research on whether or not that would like to use a midwife or give birth in a hospital. It is also imperative that the mother has clear communication with the midwife or doctor she is using and that everyone is on the same page concerning the chosen birthing plan. At the same time, something still has to be done about about the serious risks for both mother and child due to impatient, careless physicians.

  2. dawna2012 says:

    I think that we both share the opinion that free choice throughout the birthing process is of the utmost importance. Additionally, I agree that the rapid increase in C-Sections is a dangerous phenomenon that should be kept in check. According to the New York Times, many doctors are pressured into giving C-Sections to avoid insurance liability and cave into time pressures. However, I believe that you engage in a lot of hyperbole when you argue that doctors “take away” free choice and that that you “question if choice will remain as a supposed right in the future.” By doing so, you ignore situations where rapid medical intervention is necessary. Births don’t always go according to plan and the documentary never really addressed what would happen to a home birth baby if an unexpected emergency occurs where there simply isn’t time to bring the baby to the hospital. According to Michelle Goldberg of the Daily Beast, most home births are performed by CPM midwives who lack the training of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) and even the more-experienced CNMs aren’t equipped to handle certain emergencies. Martha Reilly works at a hospital in a city where home birth transfers are particularly common and told the Daily Beast that having a “dead or severely injured baby” brought in too late for treatment is not an uncommon occurrence. In a hospital setting, if something goes horribly wrong during a birth, doctors might not be able to have a proper sit-down conversation with the mother because the mother/baby might die if there is too much deliberation. Just as doctors can’t confer with patients during an open heart surgery, doctors might not have time to confer with a patient in an emergency. Of course, doctors need to make more of an effort to have conversations with women before they give birth about what course of action to take under certain circumstances so as to avoid women undergoing treatments that they’re opposed to. However, I believe that it’s important to remember that a rare set of cases require more swift decision-making by the physician than a run-of-the-mill birth.



  3. claudiajarenny says:

    So I agree with you in that there is a limitation in the choice women are given when they go into the hospital to give birth. I would imagine any time a doctor even mentions danger for a woman’s child, she feels her world coming to an end and succumbs to anything in order to save the baby she has been carrying in her belly for months. My mother was in labor for 2 days, was then injected and prepared for a caesarean section and then I was born naturally. The way she describes it, she wasn’t exactly conscious when they told her about the caesarean section. It’s really sad to hear stories like this, in which women were taken advantage of due to their state of pain.
    However, I feel that as women we need to seek out ways in which to educate ourselves before going into labor and be more stubborn to stick to our original decision. As a pre-med student, I feel like the real problem with doctors, as also mentioned in “The Business of being born,” is the doctors’ anxiety and fear of error. It’s easy to blame the doctors for taking advantage of certain situations (and in some cases they do, don’t get me wrong), however, there are women who by free choice, before they even become pregnant have decided they don’t want to ruin their body and want a caesarean section. It’s a problem in society’s view on birth. It’s a problem we need to fix within ourselves. We need to stop being so superficial and stop feeding into this business if we want to change things. Stop researching ways in which to loose weight after the baby is born and actually look into the options we might have for actually giving birth. And if the health insurance companies have any sort of issues with our decisions, fight until we get what we deserve. If women were to research, they would find the pros and cons of midwives and would potentially decide to have more natural births at home.
    I agree in questioning free choice in the future. However, in order to prevent this, women should educate themselves in every way possible before going into labor. Whether at home or in a hospital, they should trust their bodies before and during birth. Although it may sound harsh, by continuing to blame the doctors, we will not change the corruption of the “business of giving birth.”

What do you have to say about this?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s