The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (Canada) is the licensing and regulatory body for all physicians and surgeons in the province. As such, its mission involves establishing and enforcing standards for medical practice in the region, and the College publishes resource manuals with policies and guidelines to inform and direct providers.
The College recently approved a new resource manual on planned home birth in British Columbia. It begins:
The College supports a woman’s right to personal autonomy and decision making in obstetrical care. When a woman is considering planned home birth, physicians play an important role in providing advice and information so that it is an informed choice, considering all the benefits and potential adverse outcomes. [emphasis added]
The manual goes on to explain factors to consider, such as previous cesareans, unpredictable complications, and the availability of emergency services. Canada requires that midwives be licensed, and the manual includes the advice that “Physicians involved in planned home births need to ensure that they have appropriate knowledge, training, equipment and understanding of the assessments necessary in planned home delivery.”
I’m still stuck on that one explicit statement, “supports a woman’s right to personal autonomy…” For contrast, see our previous discussion on the AMA’s homebirth resolution and birth choices.