"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Medical Expertise or Paternalism?

So why do doctors put women through the dreadful and draining experience of bed rest? Medical intuition, risk aversion, the intransigence of inertia - all these are certainly factors here. But, behind all of this, is there something else going on? Are doctors subconsciously acting on age-old stereotypes about what women should be doing during pregnancy? Are they putting women on bed rest because, when anything in life presents a difficulty to a pregnancy, the response is to make women stop whatever it is that they are doing in their lives and focus solely on being the babymakers that they biologically should be?

I am certainly not saying that my wife's doctor has this motivation or that any particular doctor does. But, when research shows that bed rest does not have benefits but the recommendation still persists, background assumptions about women and pregnancy have to be analyzed.