Autonomy in place of birth: a concept analysis

Berglind Halfdansdottir*, Margaret E. Wilson, Ingegerd Hildingsson, Olof A. Olafsdottir, Alexander Kr Smarason, Herdis Sveinsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines one of the relevant concepts in the current debate on home birth—autonomy in place of birth—and its uses in general language, ethics, and childbirth health care literature. International discussion on childbirth services. A concept analysis guided by the model of Walker and Avant. The authors suggest that autonomy in the context of choosing place of birth is defined by three main attributes: information, capacity and freedom; given the antecedent of not harming others, and the consequences of accountability for the outcome. Model, borderline and contrary cases of autonomy in place of birth are presented. A woman choosing place of birth is autonomous if she receives all relevant information on available choices, risks and benefits, is capable of understanding and processing the information and choosing place of birth in the absence of coercion, provided she intends no harm to others and is accountable for the outcome. The attributes of the definition can serve as a useful tool for pregnant women, midwives, and other health professionals in contemplating their moral status and discussing place of birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-600
Number of pages10
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Icelandic Research Fund for Graduate Students and the Memorial Fund of Midwife Bjorg Magnusdottir and Farmer Magnus Jonasson. The article was proofread by Mr. Neal O’Donoghue.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Other keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Choice
  • Concept analysis
  • Home birth
  • Midwifery
  • Place of birth


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