Sunday, April 21, 2013

AMA position statement on Maternal decision-making

Maternal Decision-Making - 2013

Source: Australian Medical Association (AMA) 28/03/2013

  1. A pregnant woman has the same rights to privacy, to bodily integrity, and to make her own informed, autonomous health care decisions as any competent individual, consistent with the legal framework of that jurisdiction.
  2. A pregnant woman’s capacity to make an informed decision should not be confused with whether or not the doctor (medical practitioner) considers her decision to be reasonable, sensible or advisable. A doctor may not treat a competent pregnant woman who has refused consent to treatment. Recourse to the law to impose medical advice or treatment on a competent pregnant woman is inappropriate.
  3. Most pregnant women strive to achieve the best possible health outcomes for both themselves and their unborn babies. ...

[Please click here to read the 10 points of the position statement.]

Position Statements often seem dry and meticulous, but they actually carry considerable weight.  It may seem strange that the AMA feels the need to declare that a competent woman has the right to make her own decisions - isn't that generally understood?

An article by Health Reporter, Melissa Davey, in today's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper noted the new Position Statement, and observed that "Previously, more emphasis was placed on on how maternal behaviours may damage a foetus, rather than the autonomy of a woman's decision."

[Read more:

In other words, in the past doctors were expected to take action that 'prevented' mothers from making foolish decisions, that may have led to adverse outcomes for their babies.  It's called 'shroud waving', and it usually works.

More discussion at villagemidwife.

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