Birth plans as exercise of autonomy and informed consent rights

edición 2018

Marta Busquets Gallego

The relationship between science, medicine and humankind has evolved at a fast pace. Bioethics within Law try to establish which regulations must be in force to protect people from technical interventions in their bodies.

Simultaneously Health, Law and Academia (among many other fields) have been questioned from a Gender perspective as androcentric (men are standard).

While different approaches have existed (and exist) to determine what kind of relationship is established by health professionals and users.

In the last decades in a Western context we have transitioned (at least on a formal level) from an authoritarian model where doctors knew best and personal preferences were disregarded, to an autonomist model where the subject is recognised its fundamental right as a human being to make decisions regarding its own health, having been provided with adequate information about its situation.

Birth plans appear and become relevant in this context, from a legal and health perspective affecting women’s human rights.

My research aims to explore the legal and binding nature of birth plans as documents where women excercise their autonomy and informed consent rights. While establishing a theorical legal frame it will also examine the state of its practical application.

Specifically, it intends to explore gender and power/authority dynamics that exist in the biomedical and legal field that affect the perception, and thus application, of birth plans.

The research will mainly be focused in Spain, but will also include a comparative with other countries.