Saturday, March 20, 2021
Confidentiality and Treatment Refusal: Conservative Shifts on Reproductive Rights by Brazilian Medical Boards
Juliana Cesario Alvim Gomes, Corina Helena Figueira Mendes, Confidentiality and Treatment Refusal: Conservative Shifts on Reproductive Rights by Brazilian Medical Boards, 152(3) Int’l J. OBGYN 495 (2021):
Brazil has witnessed a conservative shift in recent years, reflected in setbacks in the field of reproductive rights. Commentators have drawn attention to changes in public policies and legislation that follow this shift. However, due attention has not been paid to changes in the professional standards regulating the medical practice and their reproductive rights consequences. Against this backdrop, this article examines two recent resolutions enacted by Brazilian medical boards, which violate ethical duties and the law. The first imposes a duty for doctors to disclose confidential medical information of their patients in sexual abuse cases. The second one determines that a pregnant woman’s right to refuse medical treatment should be evaluated considering the fetus. The article argues that conservative setbacks operate not only through visible means, such as enacted legislation but also furtively, through professional medical resolutions. It also claims that, in such a context, the debate about women’s bodily autonomy shifts once again from the human rights ground to the medical field, where it has traditionally been subjected to control and coercion. Finally, it points out the risk that these rules might be used to legitimize new conservative laws and public policies.