NYTimes: “Hospitals Weigh Bans on Videos of Birth”

Do we have the unimpeachable right to record all moments of our (and our childrens’) lives?

The New York Times reports with a very interesting article “Rules on Cameras in Delivery Rooms Stir Passions”. Apparently the incidence of malpractice suits against obstetricians is making many nervous about being recorded while doing their job and this is leading to more hospitals banning recording of births. Videos can often be used as evidence in malpractice suits. But there is much more to this discussion, I think it raises an interesting debate about the limits of our rights to record our and others’ actions.

“It’s about our rights,” Ms. Shifler, 36, said the other day at her home here in rural Maryland as she cradled her newborn daughter, Kaelii, in her arms and the rest of her brood roughhoused around her. Her husband, Michael, 37, a police officer, was able to take pictures 30 seconds after Kaelii’s birth last month, but Ms. Shifler is still fighting the hospital to change its policy.

“It’s my child,” she said. “Who can tell me I can take a picture or not take a picture of my own flesh and blood?”


“Deliveries are complicated,” Dr. William C. Hamilton, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Meritus, said in an interview at the hospital, adding that no one wanted to be distracted. “I’m not a baseball catcher with a mitt, just catching a baby,” he said.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston also bans cameras during births, said Dr. Erin E. Tracy, an obstetrician there who also teaches at Harvard Medical School.

“When we had people videotaping, it got to be a bit of a media circus,” Dr. Tracy said, adding that the banning of cameras evolved through general practice rather than a written policy. “I want to be 100 percent focused on the medical care, and in this litigious atmosphere, where ads are on TV every 30 seconds about suing, it makes physicians gun shy.”

I’m also curious about this desire to record this part of life: the importance to some families is so great that some other hospitals are using Skype to broadcast births to troops overseas. But then again another woman admitted “I look like a complete mess … I wasn’t decent for Facebook.” (just above this quote in the article a 17 year old woman said she “was disappointed not to have video of the actual birth because her friends had posted their deliveries online and she wanted to do the same.”) What do those of you who have been through their own child’s birth think about this?

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