Monday, January 22, 2007

The Ethics of Convenience

We are in the midst of Bears mania here in Chicago and while most of the excitement is focused on the actual football team, this story has been making headlines as well: Wife induces labor so husband can go to Bears game

My favorite quote comes from the mother, Colleen Pavelka:
I thought, how could [Mark] miss this one opportunity that he might never have again in his life?

It's not clear here whether she's talking about the birth of her son, or the fact that the Bears haven't made a Super Bowl since 1985.

While this story has provided us with amusing water cooler talk, it does bring up ethical questions over whether or not medical care should be altered at the convenience of the patient and/or the patient's family.

Specifically, there has been a documented rise in the number of C-sections in the last few years and it has been noted that many of these are being requested as a matter of convenience.

This trend is disturbing considering the recent studies that show the risks to newborns born by voluntary Caesarean sections.

NYT Article here
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Researchers have found that the neonatal mortality rate for Caesarean delivery among low-risk women is 1.77 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the rate for vaginal delivery is 0.62 deaths per 1,000.
It appears Colleen Pavelka did not undergo a Caesarean, however induced labor is not without its risks either.

Hopefully such events will prompt discussion about the pros and cons of voluntary C-sections and delivery that is scheduled strictly as a matter of convenience. We live in a time where for many, every minute of the day has been scheduled ahead of time. Perhaps some things should still be left up to nature.

On a lighter, more personal note, had I been in Colleen's position the headline Sunday morning would have read: "Husband's life spared after suggesting inducing labor early so he could 'make it to the game' "


Sue Trinidad said...

And--given that more and more hospitals are refusing to allow women to attempt vaginal births after they've had a C-section--allowing hubby to attend the birth *and* watch his beloved Bears means that Colleen may have decided to deliver this way for any future pregnancy as well.

slcochran said...

It should also be noted that induction increases the odds that an emergency surgical delivery will occur.