Your Right To Accept or Refuse Treatment


Did you know that you have the right and responsibility to accept or refuse any recommended treatment for you or your unborn baby?  There’s 2 sentences that are often used to take your decision making power away:

😓”My doctor won’t let me”

😓”My doctor said I can’t”




📌Your care provider can only SUGGEST/ADVISE you of certain care or treatments for your health or baby’s health.

📌Your care provider is responsible for your health and baby’s health BUT if you do not feel comfortable with any treatment or medical advice, EVEN IF IT PUTS YOU AND YOUR BABY AT RISK, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE OR ACCEPT ANYTHING.  If you refuse certain recommendations, it’s up to you and your provider to be fully informed on the benefits vs risks, document your refusal of suggested care and sign any AMA(against medical advice) forms.  Documentation and signing AMA’s helps your care provider protect himself against any legal action in the event that something happens to you or your baby.  After this, your care provider HAS TO RESPECT YOUR WISHES.

📌Your care provider is not allowed to scare you into accepting certain treatment.   Care providers SHOULD NOT use duress, manipulation, coercion, physical force, or threats, including threats to involve the courts or child protective services, to motivate women toward a specific clinical decision.  File a complaint immediately if your care providers does this.

📌Directive counseling is different than coercion.  Directive counseling is defined as patient counseling in which the care provider plays an active role in the patient’s decision making by offering advice, guidance, recommendations, or some combination thereof. Coercion is defined as the practice of compelling someone to do something by using force or threats. Directive counseling often is appropriate and typically is welcomed in the medical encounter because medical recommendations––when they are not coercive––do not violate but rather enhance the requirements of informed consent.  However, if a patient refuses the recommended course of care, it is vitally important that care providers recognize when they cross the line that separates directive counseling from coercion.

📌Informed consent is you knowing all the risks vs benefits, knowing all your options, taking into account your beliefs/religion and wishes and then WILLFULLY CHOOSING TO CONSENT.   Same goes for informed refusal. 

📌A care provider cannot guarantee that refusal of treatment is harmful to you or baby, just like he/she cannot guarantee that a certain recommendation/intervention won’t harm you or baby either.  This is why informed decision making is vital.  Nothing is guaranteed in childbirth.  But your right to choose SHOULD BE GUARANTEED!

📌Many providers do not keep up to date with ACOG recommendations or even research evidence based care.  They are simply working off of tradition and old standards of care.  It’s your responsibility to research everything and inform yourself fully.  


“Voluntariness is a background condition of informed consent. As noted in Committee Opinion No. 439, Informed Consent, “Consenting freely is incompatible with being coerced or unwillingly pressured by forces beyond oneself. It involves the ability to choose among options and select a course other than what may be recommended”. Pregnancy is not an exception to the principle that a decisionally capable patient has the right to refuse treatment, even treatment needed to maintain life. Therefore, a decisionally capable pregnant woman’s decision to refuse recommended medical or surgical interventions should be respected.”

PhotoCred: Monet Nicole