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A stigmatizing dilemma in the labour room: Irrationality or selfishness?



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Ballesteros Trapero, Virginia (2022) A stigmatizing dilemma in the labour room: Irrationality or selfishness? Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice . ISSN 1365-2753

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13747


Nowadays, a considerable number of women have a negative or outright traumatic birth experience. Literature shows that being involved in decision‐making and exercising autonomy are important factors in having a positive birth experience. In this article, I explore the hypothesis that some views characteristic of the biomedical model of childbirth may hinder women's involvement in decision‐making, leading them to what I have dubbed as a ‘stigmatizing dilemma’; that is, to be perceived and treated as either irrational or selfish when trying to exercise their autonomy in the labour room. I suggest that such a stigmatizing dilemma arises when the following views are uncritically and unqualifiedly endorsed: (1) childbirth is a process fraught with risk, particularly to babies; (2) labouring women's reports are unreliable and their subjective perspective does not constitute a valuable source of information; (3) medical knowledge and procedures are the safest means to give birth. In a scenario where (1)–(3) are strongly endorsed, if birthing women act according to instrumental rationality and want the best for their babies, they will be expected to just leave decisions to medical experts. Thus, not following expert directions might lead women to fall under the stigma of either irrationality or selfishness: they could be perceived and treated as either irrational, since they may not seem to seek the best means to accomplish their goal; or selfish, since they may seem to pursue goals other than the baby's health. I examine these stigmas in relation to two ideals: that of disembodied rationality and that of selfless motherhood. I also explore different ways in which the views and prejudices underlying this stigmatizing dilemma could be challenged.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:

CRUE-CSIC (Acuerdos Transformativos 2022)

Uncontrolled Keywords:Birth, epistemic injustice, obstetric violence, obstetrics, prejudice, shared decision‐making
Subjects:Medical sciences > Medicine > Gynecology and Obstetrics
Humanities > Philosophy
Humanities > Philosophy > Bioethics
Humanities > Philosophy > Theory of knowledge
ID Code:74068
Deposited On:04 Aug 2022 09:08
Last Modified:04 Aug 2022 11:49

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