Congratulations to Colleen and Mark Pavelka on the birth of their son Mark. But the timing of this joyous event raises interesting and unusual problem for medical ethics...
Mark, Jr. was due to be born today, but according to the AP's sports reporter, Colleen opted to induce labor on Friday so that her husband wouldn't lose out on his Bears/Saints football tickets.
Due to give birth on Monday, Pavelka's doctor told her Friday she could induce labor early. She opted for the Friday delivery.
"I thought, how could [Mark] miss this one opportunity that he might never have again in his life?" said Pavelka, 28, from the southwestern Chicago suburb of Homer Glen.
At 10:45 p.m. Friday, Mark Patrick Pavelka was born at Palos Community Hospital after close to six hours of labor.
While her husband watched the Bears play the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field Sunday, Colleen planned to watch in the hospital with the baby wrapped in a Bears blanket -- a Christmas gift from his grandmother. [AP]
I hope Mark, Sr. buys his Colleen Bears season tickets for life. He really owes her.
I'm assuming that inducing labor a few days early carries little or no risk to mother and baby. I've heard that obstetricians routinely induce labor just to get off work at a reasonable hour. Obviously, it's not right to induce labor under the guise of medical necessity when you really just want to get off work. On the other hand, if it's true that otherwise ethical doctors induce labor for their own convenience, I don't see why families shouldn't be allowed to access the same technologies.
A lot of people are going to be outraged by Colleen's decision, but if she really wanted to do this, I don't see a problem.
I gather that she's a diehard fan herself who would have wanted to be at the game. No matter which day she delivered she couldn't go, but if she could arrange it so her husband could go, why not? I think it's telling that the AP headline writer put her husband's desires front-and-center, while Colleen's own preferences were relegated to the body of the story. I gather from the story that she was looking forward to at least watching the game on TV, instead of delivering a baby that day.
It would be different if Colleen were indifferent to football and her husband pressured her undergo a medical procedure purely for his convenience and enjoyment. If my partner asked me to induce labor for a sports match, I'd be shocked and appalled. (He's not a diehard fan of any sport and neither am I.) But given that this is a family of sports fans, I can imagine Colleen voluntarily undergoing induced labor.
As Angry Black Bitch points out, a lot of otherwise well-meaning people tend to romanticize labor and childbirth. Obviously, unlike many of the births ABB talks about, the Pavelka's decision was made under relative privilege--getting to choose the timing of your birth is a luxury. On the other hand, given that you're lucky enough to have such an option, I don't see any a priori reason not to exercise it.
Ultimately, women should have the power and the social approval to induce labor at their own convenience, within the bounds of sound medical advice.