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Why Isn't It Assault When A Medical Professional Does It?

I wish I could go on in the childbirth community for the rest of my lifetime without hearing another story of serious violation to a pregnant or birthing woman. During pregnancy, and while a woman is in labor, they are in an extremely venerable position, and expect their provider to respect them, and be someone they can trust to protect them.

Unfortunately that is not always the case, and the more I read on the internet or speak with women, the more I realize that assault by providers is a serious problem.

This week a friend of mine on facebook linked a post about a certified nurse midwife assaulting a patient in her final weeks of pregnancy, and forcing her into unnecessary, and unwanted medical procedures, and my heart broke as I read the paragraphs described by the woman’s sister.

For her 38 week appointment, my sister had scheduled to see a Certified Nurse Midwife who was labeled “natural birth friendly” at the office. Upon arrival her blood pressure was taken and was slightly elevated, but not alarmingly. The midwife came in and began a series of questions which were obviously meant to help establish concerns for preclampsia. My sister did not have these symptoms, and said so. (She also did not have protein in her urine.) She did mention she had been under tremendous stress lately and began rattling off a list of the overwhelming things going on right now, to which the midwife condescendingly snorted, “Your stressed because of birthday parties and cleaning house??” She then said, “Well I’m about to make you a whole lot more stressed,” and with my sister on the examining table, naked and exposed, proceeded to STRIP HER MEMBRANES as my sister cried, “No please don’t strip my membranes, I don’t want it to be like this!”

My sister became hysterical, crying as the midwife then retook her blood pressure (which was now 175/98) and told her she had preclampsia and needed to be induced. When the midwife left the exam room, my sister phoned me, and I advised her to get the hell out of that office as quickly as she could!

At this point I had to minimize the screen for a moment and compose myself. It bothered me, hell days after the fact it still bothers me, big time. This patient openly denied a procedure, and repeatedly told her provider no and she did it anyways. Something happening way too often in our maternity care system today, all over the country.

Of course I couldn’t stop reading, and her sister went on to share the story which then began to borderline serious harassment:

Back to my sister. She went home an absolute wreck crying, on edge, thoroughly devestated by the violation which had just transpired. But she began monitoring her blood pressure with the help of her general MD and a relative who is an EMT. While her blood pressure went down considerably, it remained above normal, but only just. The midwife proceeded to call her and every relative whose number she could find to try to get her back (malpractice fears and damage control??). By the next morning, my sister deicded to go get the baby checked out. She went into the hospital where she was immediately put on pitocin, despite the fact that the baby looked good and had good stats. My sister’s blood pressure? 127/79.

There was no preclampsia.

Can you even imagine being in the shoes of this poor woman?  Not only  being harassed herself, but having her family harassed as well because she is not complying with the recommendations of this specific provider. What if she had changed practices? What if she no longer wanted to continue her care with them, which is certainly what it sounds like after being virtually assaulted in the office.

In the year 2006,  600 women in one day, and over 232,000 women were sexually assaulted in the United States. How did this provider not know this woman was never the victim of sexual assault, or rape?

If this person was not a medical care provider, there could be serious assault charges… I just cannot wrap my head around how anyone can find this type of story, or situation acceptable… or even how the provider herself could justify her own actions.

photo: flickr.com/megyarsh

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