Preganancy issues seem to be moving to the forefront of the medical and insurance industry these days. A growing number of women are up in arms over discoveries that unnecessary Cessarian delivery methods have become standard practice. Adding to the issue is the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)’s study indicting that more than 300 U.S. hospitals have banned Vaginal Birth After C-section (VBAC) — even though VBACs are safer for most women than a repeat c-section. As example, Medical Malpractice coverage exclusions within Oklahoma have dictated that virtually all that state’s women not be allowed VBAC.
Making matters worse, Kaiser and Aetna have stopped paying for midwife and birthing center deliveries, (even though such are exponentially less expensive than a hospital’s C-section. This requires that women go to a hospital and endure the C-section, as VBACs are not allowed.
Women’s right to childbirth on their own terms is a moral/ethical choice. When statistics concur that vaginal childbirth remains safer, even after C-section, it seems unlikely that insurance companies would balk at allowing a woman to choose a VBAC. It’s equally confusing that they would not prefer to pay for a far less expensive birthing center or midwife delivery.
Amongst other issues is that women often don’t discover that the VBAC isn’t allowed until after they’ve arrived at the hospital and are in labor. Then, earlier in this month, came Wall Street Journal’s report of study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study reveals that 1/3 of the C-sections are performed too early, increasing the dangers for both mother and child.
All of this combines to leave women’s rights activists (and women) feeling more and more like they have no real choice over their delivery. Some have real concerns that this will push women to have “back-alley” deliveries, rather than endure the dangers and expenses of a hospital delivery and its mandatory C-section intervention.
Is there another side to this story? Are women somehow safer, despite these studies, with forced repeated C-sections? This is obviously a patient safety issue, and whichever is truly safer, women will need to feel sure they know the truth before they can put their concerns to rest.