Is Birth Control Bad For One's Health Case Study

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This paper examines Case 7 in our text “Is Birth Control Bad for One’s Health?”. This is quite an old case (1970), but nonetheless applicable in several ways to ethical and moral issues we face in today’s society. We will examine the original case and some of the applications to similar situations today. We also recognize that in today’s society, legal charges would likely be brought against the physician who acted in a similar manner as Dr. Browne.
To summarize the case described in our text, a 16-year-old young woman wanted to be put on “the Pill”. She suspected that her doctor’s response would be to look down at her, especially considering that he had been her doctor since she was born, so she instead went to a clinic where she
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The doctor stated he was worried about the patient’s “moral health” as much as her physical health, and felt justified in his actions.
The outcome of his actions was that he was charged with violating patient confidentiality. He ultimately was exonerated of all violations by the British General
Medical Council. The physician’s defense was that he was acting in accordance with the
Hippocratic Oath and British codes of medicine (BMA). The BMA granted authority to a physician to reveal health information if he believed it was going to be best for the patient.
Here was the loophole.
My grandparents trusted every word their physician spoke to them. If he prescribed a medication, they took it. No questions asked. They didn’t even know what it was for but “the doctor said” so they did it. If a surgery or procedure was suggested, they did it. There was no discussion about the risks or benefits. I went to an appointment with my grandma several years ago. Her doctor wanted her to make a decision about a particular diabetes treatment.
She replied over and over “Whatever you think is best, Doctor.”. My grandmother
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But for those of us who live in an era of questioning and challenging everything, recognizing that medical professionals aren’t always looking out for a patient’s best interest, we question. We “research”, using Google, Wikipedia (“Wack-a-pedia” as many medical professionals privately refer to it) or “WebMD”. As sources that are not peer reviewed, there is a lot of misinformation on these sites as well.
So what turned the tides? A shift from paternalism to patient autonomy has brought about the realization that the Hippocratic Oath cannot be the guide for healthcare decisions in and of itself. Perhaps the physician in this case believed that he was honoring his promise to avoid killing, presuming he felt that birth control is preventing the “natural” plan for things. Perhaps he felt that at age 16, this young woman wasn’t capable of being autonomous about her health care. There were no laws then to ensure her rights as a patient, regardless of her age.
In current healthcare, laws exist to protect the privacy of patients who aren’t yet 18 regarding reproductive health. Minors have the right to confidentiality regarding their sexual activity, orientation, birth control, and many other aspects of this type of healthcare.

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