Even in 2017, women’s consent rights in childbirth are disturbingly unclear to the professionals and institutions delivering their medical care. One aspect is the idea of “implied consent”–a concept mischaracterized by hospitals to a number of women who have contacted me, and sometimes used to justify violations of their dignity and rights.
Specifically, when these women have complained to their hospitals about receiving one or more non-consented or forced procedures in birth, they were told that their explicit consent was not necessary because they had a) agreed to be admitted to the hospital or b) signed blanket consent forms giving the medical staff permission to treat them. Sometimes these hospitals refer to this, erroneously, as “implied consent.” The idea is that once the women were admitted or signed those forms, they should no longer have had the expectation that the care team must obtain consent for each procedure during treatment–including medication, surgical cuts, and procedures performed on and through the vagina–but, rather, expect that the care team had the authority to administer whatever treatment they chose for the duration of that patient’s labor or hospital stay. Put another way, from the perspective of the hospital, these women had forfeited their rights to informed consent and refusal in order to give birth in their facilities.
Julia Oliphant completed the Hypnobabies Childbirth Instructor certification in August of 2017. She used hypnosis with her first birth at home in 1993 at the age of 20. Since then natural birth and women's empowerment has become a passion of hers. She is also the founder and creator of Emerging Empress a healing service that provides rites of passages for women.