Clinical ethics symposium: Choice and autonomy in obstetrics


Decisions about how and where they deliver their baby are extremely important to pregnant women. There are strong ethical norms that women’s autonomy should be respected, and that plans around birth should be personalized.

However, in practice there are profound challenges to respecting women’s choices in pregnancy and in labour. Choices carry risks and consequences to the woman and her child, and potentially to her caregivers and to other women. Procedures and examinations (particularly in emergencies) frequently occur in the absence of fully informed consent.

What does it mean for women’s autonomy be respected in obstetrics? How should health professionals respond to refusals of treatment or to requests for care outside normal guidelines? What are the ethical limits to autonomy?

In this seminar, organised by the Clinical Ethics Advisory Group at the John Radcliffe Hospital, we will explore the ethical challenges around these difficult decisions.


Professor Elselijn Kingma, Sowerby Professor in Philosophy and Medicine, Kings College London, Anna Madeley, Midwife, Doctoral researcher, Lecturer, author of “Home Birth” (Elsevier 2023)

With Lawrence Impey, Brenda Kelly, Rebecca Brown, Dominic Wilkinson

Date and time

5th September 2023, 2-5pm


Lecture theatre, Academic Sciences Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU [Google maps]

Hospital site map [PDF]

Rate and Registration

To register and pay, visit the Oxford University Online Store.

The discounted rate is available to those who register with an official Oxford University Hospitals email address. Midwives, nurses and students from other Trusts please email to access the discounted rate.

Register here