Intended for healthcare professionals


Politically incorrect surgery

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 27 November 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:a

The surgeon cuts through the skin and uterus of a pregnant woman to deliver a baby who might otherwise not be born alive. What could be nobler? Unfortunately, it's not so simple. Caesarean section competes with lobotomy and circumcision to be the most politically fraught of operations.

José Belizán and others have measured caesarean section rates in Latin America and found that 12 countries have rates higher than the 15% that the World Health Organisation defines, arbitrarily, as correct (p 1397). Some populations with access to private care …

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