Abstract

These mother-told stories of birth, describing disrespectful and harmful care, make the invisibility of birthing women visible. The concerns and needs of women in labor fade in the face of hospital policies and the perceived needs of their soon-to-be-born babies. Bioethics contributes to this lack of regard for mothers by framing the moral problems of birth in terms of maternal-fetal conflict, where the autonomy of the mother is weighed against the obligation of beneficence to the baby. Replacing the principlist commitment to autonomy with respect—an obligation that does not compete with beneficence—is a first step toward correcting the problems in care identified here.

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