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This question comes up because of the many women who have contacted me to report that when they complained to a hospital about receiving a non-consented or forced procedure in birth, they were told by the hospital that their explicit consent was not necessary because they had a) agreed to be admitted to the hospital or b) signed blanket consent forms giving the medical staff permission to treat them. When it comes to maternity care, hospitals sometimes cite the idea of “implied consent” to describe this idea, that admission to the hospital or signatures on consent forms mean automatic consent to any and all treatment decided upon by medical staff.
This belief and these statements by hospitals are wrong, legally and ethically. Here’s why…
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