Latin America Must Address Issue Of Obstetric Violence Against Women

New York Times: Latin America Claims to Love Its Mothers. Why Does It Abuse Them?
Vanessa Barbara, author

“…[Obstetric violence] refers to disrespectful, abusive, or neglectful treatment during pregnancy, childbirth, abortion, and the postpartum period. … In Latin America, reports of obstetric violence have been extensively documented. … The most common kinds of mistreatment are non-consensual procedures (including sterilization), non-evidence-based interventions like routine episiotomies, and physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. … Putting a name to the practice of obstetric violence is the first step toward standing up against it, and so, of course, doctors have begun fighting back. … It is disappointing to see that some doctors are more concerned with the way this semantic ‘aggression’ injures their prestige than with the concrete, horrendous reality of abuse that abounds against women in childbirth, not only in Latin America but elsewhere. It’s plain that they resent the limitations on their authority. But pregnancy is not an exception to the idea that a capable patient has the right to make informed decisions about her medical care. Health care providers should not ‘explain what will be done’ to pregnant women; they should honestly discuss our choices and respect our bodily autonomy. And choosing another term such as ‘disrespect during childbirth’ instead of ‘obstetric violence’ will not soften the atrocities often committed by caregivers in the name of ‘doctor knows best'” (3/11).