South Carolina Backs Off Forced C-Sections

State governments are not only taking a highly intrusive approach to dictating when a woman is allowed to terminate a pregnancy and by what means, in places like South Carolina they are trying to dictate how a woman delivers a baby as well.

Mie Lewis of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project describes this story of a mother who was pregnant and although she had two prior cesarean delivers wanted to try and deliver her third baby naturally. But her doctors, publicly employed physicians at a public hospital forced her to schedule another C-section against her wishes. When she questioned this directive she was called “stupid” for wanting to try and deliver naturally and the doctors threatened to withhold medical care if she refused the surgery and went into labor naturally.

That’s when the ACLU and its partner organizations wrote to the doctors to explain that women, like everyone else, have the right to receive only the medical treatment to which they give informed consent. That means a pregnant woman has the right to refuse any and all medical interventions she does not want, even if her doctor disagrees.

Once the doctors received the letter and were reminded of the law they changed course, cancelled the scheduled C-section and respected the mother’s wish to go into labor spontaneously. The woman ultimately gave birth to a health baby girl after a natural labor.

The story is a good illustration of just how hard women still have to fight to have their basic rights respected. Informed consent to medical treatment is not a radical new idea, it’s a fundamental right that every person holds.

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Photo from Tammra McCauley via flickr.


Ms. JL M5 years ago

OK. I don't have children, and I don't want children; however...


Choice works both ways. Women's bodies. Women's decisions, period. End of story!

I'm so glad this woman got her way and that she and her little girl are doing fine!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

Nurses have worked hard to see that patients understand their rights. Nurses are the patient advocate. Many docs still believe they are gods. Yea!! ACLU.

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch5 years ago

I did have a homebirth for her and again for my next 2 babies(in a different state so with a different midwife and no Dr).

Debrah Roemisch
Debrah Roemisch5 years ago

good for the ACLU for supporting women's rights. Studies show that most women can deliver naturally even after a C section--for some women it can be more risky, but to call her stupid and refuse to work with her is arrogant, "god" complex behavior. Even if it is riskier --it is still her right to choose -it is her body! An ethical Dr who is in the profession because he/she actually wants to help people would respectfully work with her. When my first baby was born 33 yrs ago I had a midwife and a Dr who worked together (as it should be!) The Dr did pre-natal care and the midwife taught childbirth classes--the two of them in consultation with eachother and with us decided if we were candidates for homebirth or not. If he had said I needed a hospital natural birth or a C-section I would have trusted him that it was truly necessary because he had been so respectful of me and the natural process of birth. We need more professionals like him!

Martin L.
Martin L5 years ago

What is important here is that ALL doctors respect a womens right to choose how (and where) they want to give birth to their baby. A C-Section should never be a first-choice procedure to Mother giving birth.

Natural birth has, as far as I am aware, been the best way for Mother, Father and baby to bond; whereas, that “early” bonding process is delayed due to Mother recovering after anesthesia for the C-Section procedure. This I have witnessed in the delivery of both my daughters, the first to C-Section and my second daughter delivered by Natural Birth.

I accept that there are medical emergencies that put paid to Natural Birth, but never should a doctor place a Mother in a position of "Do what the Doctor wants" rather than letting Mother choose what's best for her and her Baby.

No politician or Law Maker has the right to legislate other than to grant Mother the right of choice, preventing doctors from making that choice on a Mother’s behalf.

Tony C.
Tony C5 years ago

Information and questions. When you are pregnant before you give birth ask questions of women who have had babies. Ask your friends. Check out all the possible ways such as natural, c-section, water and any other ways. Check out the Internet. And finally check out with your doctor and find out what he or she thinks about the procedure and WHY he or she think you should have that procedure. When all is said and done, it is your body and your baby, DO what is best for you and the baby.

Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

I totally relate to her: I had 2 emergency C-sections, and on the third try... natural birth! I was so happy and proud! Fortunately, all the health professionals around me respected, even lauded, my decision to try for the natural birth.

Shame on the doctor who insulted and threatened her!

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

The doctor wants to do C sections because that makes them more money to do an unnecessary operation for profit and its a power trip to make them feel like gods.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

just get a midwife the baby will come wether the doctors want it to or not.

Diana S.
Diana S5 years ago

There is a legitimate reason why doctors advise women who have had a C-section previously to have them again - there is a significantly greater risk of tissue rupture and uncontrolled bleeding in the area of the scar tissue. Scar tissue in flesh is weaker than "whole" tissue, just as a mended break in porcelain or wallboard or tile or lumber is weaker than the whole, unbroken product.

YES - omen who have had previous C-sections are at greater risk of complications if they elect to have subsequent children by "natural" birth.

Some people are greater risk-takers than others, be they doctors, pregnant women, or just the guy on the street. And when one considers how damned sue-happy the American public is, and how every doctor, drug, and medical procedure seem to be every shyster's next target, I am not in the least surprised that so many doctors are NOT willing to take what they consider to be unnecessary, sue-able risks.

Any woman with a history of C-section, whose doctor is not willing to participate in her "natural" birth, should FIND ANOTHER DOCTOR! And the ACLU should have stayed the hell out of things!