New York Times Magazine allowed top-selling author Gary Taubes, of Good Calories, Bad Calories fame to answer questions from readers. I was pleasantly surprised to find a question about the ethics of some types of prenatal screening given the extremely high rates of false positives and the subsequent stress and anxiety those results can cause. Taubes agrees that this is a problem and that doctors should better inform their patients. He points out, though, that many people simply want to be told what to do and expect their doctors to bear the burden of those types of decisions.
I think Taubes is right here. I am lucky enough to live in Ontario where midwives are regulated and covered by public health care as an alternative to obstetricians. I opted for midwifery care during my pregnancy and was treated to leisurely check ups throughout during which all tests, screenings, etc. were discussed in detail. My midwife informed me about what advocates for or against any given procedure were concerned about and what the standard procedure was. Most doctors, unfortunately, don’t have the time for such detailed discussions and — what’s more — I can imagine members of my own family who simply would not want all those details. And I can certainly understand that. (You don’t want your auto mechanic going over every rationale — just fix it already!) And I’m still not sure that I made the best choice regarding all my procedures. Did I really need that ultrasound at 12 weeks?
But it was my choice in the end. And I am glad to have had it.