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'Obstetric Violence' and Modern American Medical Jurisprudence

A recent Yahoo! Parenting article grouped a particular lawsuit under the larger rubric of "obstetric violence." But, what is "obstetric violence" and how does it fit into the modern American medical jurisprudence?


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In November 2015, Yahoo! Parenting ran an article titled “Woman Sues Hospital over Traumatic Birth That Turned Our Family Life Upside Down,” The article describes a lawsuit filed by Caroline Malatesta in Birmingham, AL, against Brookwood Medical Center and Tenet Healthcare. According to the article, Malatesta alleged that she was enticed to switch from a traditional hospital offering “a typically medicalized approach” to childbirth, such as laboring on her back with her feet in stirrups, to a new facility that “used a splashy marketing campaign to offer women ‘autonomy,’ birthing tubs, cushy suites, and the honoring of ‘any personalized birthing plan.’” Malatesta reported to Yahoo! Parenting that her experience at Brookwood included “aggressive medical interventions that left her disempowered, permanently injured, and psychologically traumatized.” The Yahoo! Parenting article grouped the Malatesta lawsuit under the larger rubric of “obstetric violence,” with links to other articles with titles such as “Bullied, Powerless, and Defeated: 45 Women Share Their Striking Birth Stories” and “Woman Forced into Episiotomy Fights Back with Lawsuit.”

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