Coercion and non-consent during birth and newborn care in the United States

Coercion and non-consent during birth and newborn care in the United States
Original Article
Rachel G. Logan, Monica R. McLemore, Zoë Julian, Kathrin Stoll, Nisha Malhotra, Saraswathi Vedam
Birth, 23 June 2022
Open Access
In the United States, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) experience more adverse health outcomes and report mistreatment during pregnancy and birth care. The rights to bodily autonomy and consent are core components of high-quality health care. To assess experiences of coercion and nonconsent for procedures during perinatal care among racialized service users in the United States, we analyzed data from the Giving Voice to Mothers (GVtM-US) study.
In a subset analysis of the full sample of 2700, we examined survey responses for participants who described the experience of pressure or nonconsented procedures or intervention during perinatal care. We conducted multivariable logistic regression analyses by racial and ethnic identity for the outcomes: pressure to have perinatal procedures (eg, induction, epidurals, episiotomy, fetal monitoring), nonconsented procedures performed during perinatal care, pressure to have a cesarean birth, and nonconsented procedures during vaginal births.
Among participants (n = 2490), 34% self-identified as BIPOC, and 37% had a planned hospital birth. Overall, we found significant differences in pressure and nonconsented perinatal procedures by racial and ethnic identity. These inequities persisted even after controlling for contextual factors, such as birthplace, practitioner type, and prenatal care context. For example, more participants with Black racial identity experienced nonconsented procedures during perinatal care (AOR 1.89, 95% CI 1.35–2.64) and vaginal births (AOR 1.87, 95% CI 1.23–2.83) than those identifying as white. In addition, people who identified as other minoritized racial and ethnic identities reported experiencing more pressure to accept perinatal procedures (AOR 1.55, 95% CI 1.08–2.20) than those who were white.
There is a need to address human rights violations in perinatal care for all birthing people with particular attention to the needs of those identifying as BIPOC. By eliminating mistreatment in perinatal care, such as pressure to accept services and nonconsented procedures, we can help mitigate long-standing inequities.

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