Bodily autonomy and informed consent are key components to having an empowered birth experience. Let's start by defining what these terms mean.
Informed Consent: permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.
Bodily Autonomy: the right to self-governance over one's own body without external influence or coercion. It is generally considered to be a fundamental human right.
Why are these things important in your birth? Because they are important at all times of your life. Why should these important and basic human rights suddenly disappear because you are pregnant? How can you make an informed decision about your care if you don't know all your options? How can you take ownership of your birth and choices if you don't know all the possibilities? Your provider is there to offer their opinion based on their years of experience, but ultimately you get the final say.
You -- and only you -- get to decide what happens to your body. If you don't want to be touched, then no one should touch you. If you don't want an internal exam, then no one has the right to invade your body. Your choices should be respected.
It is completely possible to have compassionate and empathetic care. Shared decision-making between a person and their provider is practiced by several physicians/midwives around the world and even here in Atlanta. This should be the standard of care, not the exception. Because ever human deserves it.