Growing Obstetric Violence

Hey Guys,

After our class discussion on obstetric violence and recent test, I was interested to see if scholars in the United States have adopted the term. When going through journals in search of articles about obstetric violence I did not find an article specifically using the term ‘obstetric violence’ in context of the United States. However, I did find an article from The American Journal of Bioethics, “Obstetricians and Violence Against Women” that focuses on how some obstetrical practices mirror and perpetuate the attitudes of abusive men and violence against women. The practices referenced in this article are obstetrician response to alcohol use during pregnancy and court-ordered medical treatment. Author Sonya Charles argues throughout the article that “forced medical treatments is a form of violence against women.” She states that abstinence-only approach to alcohol use during pregnancy and certain medication use overstates the risk of alcohol use to manipulate women in attempt to control their behavior. Charles also references Gavaghan’s “You Can’t Handle the Truth” quoting: “To continue preaching total abstinence because of a fear that women will misunderstand the truth, or regard a reassuring message about low-level consumption as a “green light” for unrestrained overindulgence, is patronising and paternalistic to a degree that is hard to reconcile with any real respect for autonomy and informed decision-making” (Gavaghan 2009, 303). In the case of court-ordered medical treatment “obstetricians use the power of the state to keep women under medical surveillance and/or perform medical treatments on behalf of the fetus against the women’s wishes.” Charles links these two OB practices to abusive men through “ideas of male supremacy, control of women, and violence against women” and “patriarchal and misogynistic attitudes.”                                                                                                                 When I did a more general Google search I came across a website article “We need to talk about obstetric violence”, from 2014, that spoke about examples in California, Ireland, and Australia. Similar to the obstetrician and violence article, this article discusses the force of medical practice on women and women’s lack of decision-making over births and their bodies. It will be interesting to see how widely the term “obstetric violence” is adopted and used among different cultures, especially among developing and industrialized countries.Do you guys think this is a term or if there is a definition that will be universally used?

For reference the definition of obstetric violence from the Venezuela article is: “the appropriation of the body and reproductive process of women by health personal, which is expressed as dehumanized treatment, an abused of education, and to convert the natural process into pathological ones, bringing with it low of autonomy and the ability to decide freely about their bodies and sexuality, negatively impacting the quality of life of women”

“Obstetricians and Violence Against Women”                       “We need to talk about obstetric violence”




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