Whose Values? Whose Risk? Exploring Decision Making About Trial of Labor After Cesarean

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Medical Humanities


In this article, we discuss decision making during labor and delivery, specifically focusing on decision making around offering women a trial of labor after cesarean section (TOLAC). Many have discussed how humans are notoriously bad at assessing risks and how we often distort the nature of various risks surrounding childbirth. We will build on this discussion by showing that physicians make decisions around TOLAC not only based on distortions of risk, but also based on personal values (i.e. what level of risk are you comfortable with or what types of risks are you willing to take) rather than medical data (or at least medical data alone). As a result of this, we will further suggest that the party who is best epistemically situated to make decisions about TOLAC is the woman herself.

Original Citation

Charles, S. & Wolf, A.B. J Med Humanit (2018) 39: 151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10912-016-9410-8