Are C-Sections Illegal In Other Countries?

Although giving birth seems like it should be a fairly universal practice, different countries, customs, and even legal systems can have a significant impact on women's birth plans around the world. In recent years, for instance, the practice of cesarean sections has received some intense scrutiny in many areas of the world. But are C-sections illegal in other countries, and how does the legal system affect birthing practices across different nations?

First, it helps to understand the global trend toward increased C-sections in many countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the ideal rate of C-sections for a nation is between 10 to 15 percent of deliveries. As further explained by the WHO, only 14 countries fall within this range, whereas 54 have lower than ideal rates, and 69 had C-section rates of above 15 percent. Although this may not seem like a big problem, as the WHO also noted, such excess of C-section procedures in some countries may serve as a barrier to universal health service coverage for other nations.

Furthermore, it does not appear that C-sections are outright illegal in any countries, but particular laws may affect their prevalence one way or another. In some cases, countries have passed laws (or at least rules) in a push to reduce the high C-section rate. For instance, in an effort to curtail the practice, Turkey passed a 2012 law limiting C-sections to those deemed medically necessary, as reported by The Law Library of Congress. Similar measure have been put in place in Brazil, where the rates of C-sections are as high as 99 percent for some hospitals, as explained by Medical Daily. And according to the BBC, Brazil introduced rules in 2015 obliging doctors to verify their reasoning for each C-section procedure prior to the operation.


On the flip side, a fear of legal action may be one reason the C-section rates have ballooned so much. According to The Economist, doctors in the United States and China may face lawsuits or demands for monetary compensation from parents whose vaginal delivery had complications. In some cases such as these, a C-section baby may seem like a safer bet for the physicians. Again, time will tell whether laws are enacted to help protect doctors and encourage the use of vaginal delivery when appropriate.