Open Access. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry volume 16, p99–112 (2019) Published online: 20 December 2018
Abstract: Women are over-represented within alternative medicine, both as consumers and as service providers. In this paper, I show that the appeal of alternative medicine to women relates to the neglect of women’s health needs within scientific medicine. This is concerning because alternative medicine is severely limited in its therapeutic effects; therefore, those who choose alternative therapies are liable to experience inadequate healthcare. I argue that while many patients seek greater autonomy in alternative medicine, the absence of an evidence base and plausible mechanisms of action leaves patients unable to realize meaningful autonomy. This seems morally troubling, especially given that the neglect of women’s needs within scientific medicine seems to contribute to preferences for alternative medicine. I conclude that the liberatory credentials of alternative medicine should be questioned and make recommendations to render scientific medicine better able to meet the needs of typical alternative medicine consumers.
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