Date of Award

5-17-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

Department

Liberal Studies

First Reader

Beau Breslin

Second Reader

Mary Correa

Abstract

A significant number of American women receive clinical birthing-option advice from obstetrician-gynecologists ("ob-gyns") that is based at least in part on non-medical considerations, without being informed of the non-medical bases that influence the recommendations they receive. The first premise of this paper is that the provision of medical advice in this manner constitutes a human-rights violation under both international and American human-rights norms. The second premise of this paper is that these violations may be averted or alleviated by greater transparency in American medical-services provision, particularly with reference to establishment of clinical practice standards by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (hereinafter "ACOG"), and by increasing ob-gyn accountability via litigation.

These premises are examined first generally, and then with particular regard to the formalized but non-governmental facilitation and encouragement of delivery of fetuses by cesarean section -- a surgical procedure - via restriction of the availability of medical services in support of vaginal birth by women who have previously delivered by c-section ("VBAC," or vaginal birth after cesarean).

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