Statements and opinions 2010

Ethical grounds for good practice in obstetric care, 25.3.2010

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health requested a statement on obstetric care. ETENE discussed the matter at its meetings on 5 November 2009, 16 February 2009 and 25 March 2010.

In its statement, ETENE noted that ethical principles may sometimes be compromised in good obstetric care. In childbirth, the key values are the child's right to health, well-being and a good birth; respect for human dignity; self-determination; fairness; and equality. There may be conflicting interests at play when considering the rights of the mother versus the rights of the foetus, the safety of the care provided, access to care, the wishes of the mother or medical considerations. In such situations, ethical principles must be prioritised.

In providing obstetric care, attention must be paid to what resources are available and how they should be allocated to ensure equitable treatment of citizens. The aim must be to make services easily available and reasonably priced while responding to the needs and expectations of families. It is anticipated that childbirth safety concerns will lead to geographical centralisation of deliveries and at the same time to a centralisation of specialised medical care. We must prepare for this by altering our operating practices.

The growth and development of a child depends crucially on good-quality pre-natal, obstetric and post-natal care, and this should be brought under discussion. In particular, we need to discuss the right of the foetus to health and welfare, as this reflects the value that society places on the life of a child-to-be.

Entire statement in Finnish (pdf, 1112 kB)