Choice in Birth: Preserving Access to VBAC

47 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2010 Last revised: 27 Jul 2010

See all articles by Elizabeth Kukura

Elizabeth Kukura

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Date Written: March 23, 2010


More than 800 hospitals - in every state of the U.S. - have banned vaginal birth after cesarean surgery (“VBAC”), and another nearly 400 hospitals have de facto VBAC bans in place, due to the unavailability of providers willing to attend such births. With the U.S. cesarean rate at an all-time high, thousands of women with a cesarean scar preparing to give birth again confront these restrictions, despite evidence that VBAC is a safe and reasonable choice, especially when compared with the risks inherent in repeat cesareans. In this Article, I explore how VBAC restrictions represent a broad violation of the right to liberty and reproductive choice. VBAC bans essentially compel women to undergo major abdominal surgery - regardless of medical necessity and the stated preference of the individual woman herself - or choose to labor outside a hospital setting. With four million births annually in the U.S., such a trend in birth practices should sound alarms for all those who care about reproductive freedom.

Keywords: Reproductive Freedom, Reproductive Rights, Birth, VBAC, Women's Health, Cesarean

JEL Classification: I18, K32

Suggested Citation

Kukura, Elizabeth, Choice in Birth: Preserving Access to VBAC (March 23, 2010). Penn State Law Review, Vol. 114, No. 3, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth Kukura (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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