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.