Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 481–487 | Cite as

Home birth: Consumer choice and restriction of physician autonomy

  • Paul Thompson


It is frequently argued that home birth is morally irresponsible because it involves the taking of risks on behalf of the fetus. Against this position, I argue three things. First, the fact that home birth involves risks does not necessarily entail that choosing or attending one is morally unacceptable, irresponsible or wrong. Second, parents have a prima facia prerogative to decide on behalf of their fetuses and children whether risks should be taken. While this prima facia prerogative can be overridden, reasonable and widely accepted criteria for doing so are not met in the case of home birth. Third, since the current attitudes and behaviours of physicians with regard to home birth constitute a de facto morally and socially unjustifiable overriding of an informed parental decision, physician autonomy should be restricted so as to preserve the autonomy of the medical consumer.


Economic Growth Current Attitude Consumer Choice Home Birth Parental Decision 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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