I am confused. I don't think we can play it both ways. Either birth is or is not generally a medical event. If it is or becomes a medical event in a society which provides care regardless of the ability to pay, then why can't as the PP suggested there be guidelines in place to decide who should get which services?
I really don't think guidelines on pain relief, of whatever kind, in childbirth make any sense. Nobody knows how much pain a woman is in except for her. I know that when I checked in to the hospital with ds1, I was told by the admissions nurse, the L&D nurse, and the...think it was an intern...that I was "obviously not that far along, but we'll check you out". I was 8cm, and during a contraction, I was 10cm. They called a crash section for breech on the spot. So...three medpros assumed I wasn't that far along, based on their assessment of my appearance when I approached the check-in desk. They were all wrong. I don't want them deciding whether or not I can have pain relief.
What kind of guidelines could we possibly establish for something like that? I'm inclined to think we could say "no epidural in the parking lot"...but women can't really have that, anyway.