Authority To Consent
Except for certain fertility treatments, the patient has sole authority to make the decisions about her care. Paternalism in obstetric care is legally dangerous. An obstetrician who tells a patient not to worry because everything will be fine is making a guarantee on the outcome of a pregnancy with almost no ability to influence that outcome. Consent is a simple problem made complicated by misinformation. A pregnant woman is the only person who may consent to her medical care. This is always true for adults, and in most states a pregnant minor has the right to consent to her medical care. Neither husbands, lovers, prospective grandparents, prospective adoptive parents, nor adoption agencies have a right to consent to, or interfere in, the medical care of the pregnant woman. Any discussion of the woman’s medical care with such third parties is a violation of the patient’s rights unless she has given her explicit permission.