Vaginal Examinations During Childbirth: Consent, Coercion and COVID-19

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Abstract

In this paper I assess the labour ward admission policies introduced by some National Health Service (NHS) trusts during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that these intersected with other policies in a manner which may have coerced birthing people into consenting to vaginal examinations they might have otherwise refused. In order to fully understand the potential severity of these policies, I situate this critique in the historical and contemporary context of the problematic relationship between consent and vaginal examinations. Identifying the legal wrongs associated with performing coerced vaginal examinations, I highlight that the law is inadequately equipped to provide appropriate redress. Further, I illustrate that the issue explored in this paper reflects broader problems which exist with regard to the focus of, and the (under)investment in, the maternity services.

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Nelson, A. (2021, April 1). Vaginal Examinations During Childbirth: Consent, Coercion and COVID-19. Feminist Legal Studies. Springer Science and Business Media B.V. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-021-09453-7

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