ICAN, the International Cesarean Awareness Network, is the premier organization promoting vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC). ICAN has taken the lead in advocating for VBAC in nearly every circumstance, opposing VBAC restrictions put in place by hospitals and malpractice insurers, and arguing that principles of bodily autonomy mean that women should be able to force doctors to attend VBACs even when they believe them to be unsafe.
Presumably there is nothing that ICAN wants more than to increase the rate of VBAC in the US, which has dropped precipitously from the 1996 high of approximately 28% to the current rate of only 10%. ICAN has correctly identified the strict ACOG guidelines for VBAC as one reason for the decline, as well as fears of malpractice suits, and so called “defensive medicine.”
But ICAN could fix all that, making it possible for any woman seeking a VBAC to have one regardless of where she lives or what her doctor recommends. What could ICAN do? ICAN could indemnify the doctors and hospitals when they supervise a VBAC.
What does it mean to idemnify? According to Merriam-Webster:
to protect (someone) by promising to pay for the cost of possible future damage, loss, or injury
In this case, ICAN would be promising doctors and hospitals to pay for the cost of possible lawsuits and legal cases that arise from VBACs. Doctors would face no risk from attending VBACs because ICAN would function as a form of insurance, paying them when a woman sued in the wake of serious complications from VBAC.
From ICAN’s point of view, it would be a win-win. On the one hand, they would relieve doctors and hospitals of the fear of malpractice suits and the crushing burden of multi-million dollar verdicts for babies who sustain brain damage or die during attempted VBACs. On the other hand, the financial burden for ICAN would be minimal if VBAC is truly as safe as they insist.
ICAN and its members appear to despise doctors who practice defensive medicine. In one simple step they would relieve doctors and hospitals of the need to practice defensive medicine. They could inform grateful doctors and hospitals to worry no more. From now on, ICAN would agree to be responsible for footing the cost of any lawsuits and subsequent judgments. Imagine the relief of providers who foolishly imagine VBACs to involve indefensible dangers to babies and mothers. Imagine the relief of mothers who would never face so-called “VBAC bans” again.
The best part is that there could be no greater demonstration of ICAN’s belief in the safety of VBAC than its willingness to pay for the outcomes. If VBACs are as safe as ICAN claims, if complications are as rare as ICAN insists, and if defensive medicine is as despicable as ICAN implies, it should cost nearly nothing.
So how about it ICAN? All you need to do is indemnify doctors and hospitals for the outcomes of VBACs and the VBAC rate would soar.
If you truly believe in the safety of VBACs, you should have no trouble putting your money where your mouth is, right?