Birthing Rights are Womyn’s Rights.

Via Saraswati J.
on May 25, 2010
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It’s not a medical right. It’s more than just a human right.

It’s a womyn’s right.

Covert destruction of democracy seems to be all too common in this country. Unfortunately we just missed another fatal blow to our strength and solidarity as human beings- but most importantly, as womyn.

New York decided last week that attended home births by trained midwives will now be illegal. Fourteen other states concur. This creates very sticky situations for midwives and birthing mothers who don’t wish to birth in a hospital. Should you birth alone, with no assistance? Or should you risk having a midwife in attendance who could face legal complications?

If a midwife is found to be “operating without a license” in any of these states, she could risk prosecution by the state.

“In some states, statutes require midwives to have nursing degrees in order to practice, while in others, licensure is unavailable, indirectly preventing midwives from practicing legally. As a result, there are cases pending in courts around the country prosecuting midwives for practicing medicine without a license.”

Letting the government into our wombs is a startling thought. Much like the abortion issue, I see birthing issues as an individual choice. This is a personal freedom as a human being, but most importantly as a mother. A birth is such a precious gift and a delicate time- there is no place for government bureaucracy.

Why does the state care anyway?

Money is always the bottom line. The government really doesn’t care about a womyn and her body or the choice of home over hospital. The state cares about insurance, hospital dollars, taxes, keeping track of you and your child once he is born. In addition, the relationship between the state and the hospital needs to be evaluated. Hospitals are big money makers, as are insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. Natural home birthing doesn’t make money. There’s no money to be made on midwives unless the state can create a legal issue.

Unfortunately the biggest losers are mothers and babies. For a country that has the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the industrialized world (as well as the highest number of hospital births as well) I’m not about to give the biggest choice of my life away that easily. In my eyes, this is yet another method of control, subjugation and silencing of the divine female voice, while instilling yet another layer of fear around a sacred human experience.

With only 1% of womyn choosing home birthing at this point, education surrounding this natural life process is lacking. Most womyn still approach birthing with trepidation, nervous that “something might go wrong” or that it is going to be “too painful” not to have drugs handy. Where have these notions come from? When did this occur? Less than a hundred years ago, the idea of having babies in hospitals was an anomaly.

As womyn, we must regain our rights and our options. Please get educated, make your birthing choices wisely, not numbly. Seek out midwives and doulas in your area and dialogue with them about your concerns and questions. You might just change you and your new child’s life as a result.


About Saraswati J.

Saraswati J. is a Jyotish Coach and Consultant, bridging ancient Jyotish wisdom with Embodiment and Expressive Art Therapy resources. Her Jyotish work is especially well suited to the extra sensitive artists, mystics and healers—and those who need insights for their dharmic path and personal transformation process. Check out her website and find her on Facebook. You can join her newsletter for special astrological insights or register for her weekly Jyotish Basics classes for an extra dose of healing wisdom. Additionally, she creates unique adornments with the urban goddess in mind. Check out her jewelry at Swati Jr* Jewelry and also on Facebook.


20 Responses to “Birthing Rights are Womyn’s Rights.”

  1. Katja says:

    DEEP sigh. As a mother of three boys, including 11 month old twins, all born at home, I am a huge proponent and advocate for homebirth and birth matters. I think you make a very valid point that the issue for the state here is a financial one, not one of concern for the well being of mother and child. I live in a state with ongoing legislative battles for midwifery rights – and one in which we have many nationally trained and very skilled midwives like the ones that helped me bring my boys into the world in my living room. I am so incredibly grateful for the love, compassion, skill, understanding, emotional encouragement, and blessings that my midwives have gifted me with. They are and always will be, a part of my family, for their presence at my births, and for the beautiful way that they helped my children enter this world.

  2. swati jr* says:

    i will vouch for their incredible assistance as well as your beautiful courage! these births have inspired me and helped my heart expand beyond measure. i love you!

  3. I am aghast! What an outrage! This should be immediately fought. What can I do? I am shocked at the stupidity of this new law. Sorry to be so blunt, but really!!! I have a 10 month old, and did extensive research before I decided to have an unassisted birth at home with friends and husband, mostly because I couldn't afford a midwife at home and the hospitals made me feel displaced, out of alignment with what the baby and my deep inner self wanted for the birth. I was able to have a midwife come right after the birth to do a checkup. Would THAT be illegal?

    Stats show that womyn giving birth in hospitals have WAY higher birth problems that do womyn giving birth at home. Hospital births almost always lead to intervention, whether drugs, screaming nurses, C-section, or all of the above. We are like cats, who want to birth in a dark, safe place, the opposite of hospital conditions. Babies are statistically healthier when they are birthed in a comfortable warm, dark environment where the mother feels safe.

    When we finally wake up and start allowing births at home again, I believe with my whole being, we will start birthing a new humanity… see my favorite website on birth: 🙂 Thanks so much Saraswati!!!

  4. Ann says:

    Well written. I hope your article creates a conversation that ultimately changes legislation, hearts and minds. When birth is restored as a sacred event, the world will begin to heal.

  5. LizB says:

    great article sarah. I have also been thinking a lot about where the government draws the line and too often it is to prevent us humans from engaging in basic human survival activities in our own peaceful ways. whether it's growing our own food or medicine or giving birth to our children. These are the things that make us human and that the government should protect and revere. Instead, we've got sterile government workers more interested in protecting big business and requiring us to depend on huge corporations (pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and agribusiness) all of which are making us sicker and sicker. and less and less self reliant. i think this is the work of our time – to bring basic human survival and basic humanity back into our over-teched, over-sterilized, we are so "civilized" lives.

  6. swati jr* says:

    perhaps another reason not to have a hospital birth??!
    *though it's not clear from the interview, this was apparently a home birth, however, the mother oddly contracted a flesh eating virus several days later and had to have arms and legs amputated.

  7. swati jr* says:

    entirely true liz! i couldn't agree more. government really doesn't want an awakened population.

  8. swati jr* says:

    your birth story is awesome michelle! what an inspiration. 14 other states feel that homebirthing with a midwife is also illegal. NY is following them. how many more states taking away individual's/womyn's rights will it take before we decide enough is enough?

  9. swati jr* says:

    let's hope so!

  10. Thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard about this and am in disbelief that they can get away with it! I'm not a mom yet, but am sure that when the time comes, I'll choose a home birth to the bright sterile hospital setting! (I better stay in California…) Great Article!

  11. swati jr* says:

    spread the word Rachel! so many are unaware of the legislation around birthing. regardless of if you choose a home birth or not, it is a womyn's right to have that choice. bless*

  12. Laurie says:

    This distresses me. Why? Just watch the documentary, "The Business of Being Born" and you'll understand. Statistics show that Babies and Mothers are NO LONGER SAFE in US hospitals – they are both dying in record numbers. I had my first child in 1973 and the hospital staff what astounded that I wanted a "natural birth" and that I wanted to breast feed… It was a bit better in the early 80s when my other two children were born, though I was still questioned because 1)I breastfed and 2)I left the hospital the same day I gave birth. My daughter used a midwife just 3 months ago and was thrilled with the experience! I cannot believe the government is going to start dictating that part of a woman's life also.

  13. Valerie says:

    This is utterly absurd and infuriating. It's all about money. Yes…watch the documentary "The Business of Being Born". You will totally understand.

  14. Ronna says:

    Just to clarify, New York didn't pass a new law outlawing homebirths–existing law requires that midwives attending births at home be approved by a physician or a doctor. One of our major hospitals in NYC closed recently, and it was the hospital where all of the currently practicing homebirth midwives had their approval. Unfortunately, no other hospital has stepped up to the plate, and this is a huge loss to the community right now, but it could be temporary. I'm a women's health advocate and a big supporter of home birth (I plan to have my children either at home or at an independent, free-standing birthing center), but there is a big difference between outlawing homebirth entirely (which some states have done) and the current situation in New York. Obviously the best solution is to pass legislation that allows trained midwives to practice without the approval on OB/GYN or hospital. I hope that happens, and that, in the meantime, that another one of the hospitals here will support women's birthing choices.

  15. swati jr* says:

    thank you for the clarification ronna. further clarification can be found via the Guardian
    though things are up in the air in NY at this point, 14 other states still consider midwifery punishable by law. my sister had both of her home births in the state of Indiana, where it continues to be illegal. if a womyn chooses to birth at home, she either has to birth without a midwife, or have a midwife help her illegally. she chose the latter and we are all grateful to her birthing team.
    thanks for the comment!

  16. via

    Jennifer LR
    This is sad. It's not just a blow to women and our right to chose but also to the nursing profession.

    De West
    Jaw is open………"no way!"

    Casey H
    Wow. This is back to pre 70's birthing. A big blow to women's control of their bodies. Where is the outrage on this one from women's groups, like we get on abortion rights violations?????

    Jennifer LR
    Trained midwives are a great asset in the goal of preventing illness in that they allow healthy pregnant women to deliver in a non-hospital setting. Thus preventing the spread of nosocomial infections and communicable illnesses for both mother and neon…ate. The bottom line in this decision is money … not health.

    Niki K
    Outrageous. So sad. I was born at home by accident and had my daughter at home on purpose, it was a joy and a blessing and I love our mid wife. Thank goodness we live in Colorado.

    Jason L
    It is all to common and MONEY is at the root of it all. I just had a friend have her baby at home unintentionally but safe and sound never the less, she had intended to go to a birthing center with her doula and MW but did not make it. Long story short, an ambulance showed up made her and the new born go to the hospital, in the ambulance of course… See More, she was then made to stay in the hospital for 24 hours and told if she left her insurance would have the right not to pay for the $2000 ride ($1000 each for her and the newborn) and the hospital stay which billed her insurance as though she had the baby at the hospital. For a brief yet good look at the medical worlds view on birthing I suggest watching "The Business of Being Born"

    Greg Stone
    Guess we are seeing the days of choice disappear into the swamp of big government. Wait until Obamacare takes effect … yippee. All that time I spent reading Brave New World is now relevant.

    Heather LD
    last time midwives were banned they burned them as witches…we have reverted to a sad place!

    mother )(#$&*@(#*$&$ BASTARDS. I can't believe when have gone backwards again. I cannot take up yet another cause…but I know a few people to share this with…this must be overturned….

    Janet Auty-Carlisle
    Oh F*** and I don't ever swear, seriously. This has nothing to do with anything but, as the author pointed out, insurance and legal issues. GMAB….don't the dads have anything to say about this? Maybe the governing bodies will listen to them since the voices of women don't seem to matter. Big, huge sigh…

    Birthing and pregnancy is not a pathology. Stop medicalising birth! There is a very small amount of women and babes who actually need medicalisation. Birth is a right if passage for both mother and child.
    Mother of2 . And successful home water births.
    If I had of been in hospital w my first birth I would have been made to have a Caesarian as it … See Morewas very long. ThNk goodness I was at home with 2 highly experienced midwives. What's happening in my country Australia re: birth rights and the systematic deregistration of midwife to be able to be in private practice is ignorance and misinformation by and to our government by an outdated patriarchal establishment.

    I'm going to start handing out copies of 1984 Animal Farm Faherneit 451 and Brave New World…seriously people we can not give up our freedoms likes this…

    Mira F

    Scott N
    As a man, a husband and a father, I say this isn't up to me. As long as the baby is inside you – it is the woman's decision what to do with it.

    Dara G
    how dare the government tell
    women what way is legal to birth their babies!!!
    i am
    i birthed both my girls AT HOME with trained midwives…it was a beautiful,nonviolent,wonderful way for our girls to enter tbe world…it is not for every woman,but how dare that choice be taken away?

    I'm a transplanted New Yorker from Montana and a Nurse and it really does make me sad. Most woman I know that have had home births, have a doula in addition to the Mid-wife. A lot of my friends opted for home births literally out of fear of going to the hospital and not being allowed to labor naturally and ending up having their baby being delivered by way of a c-section. Hospitals and these damn HMO's are chasing money like thieves in the night with no regard to our wishes/needs.

    Nicole S
    WOW, are you —– serious? This is sad.

  17. Bryan says:

    New York's ban is a natural consequence of the leftist mindset. Government must "take care of us". Nanny government will not tolerate freedom, for freedom entails risk, and nanny government will remove all risk–at gunpoint if needs be.

  18. william says:

    I can’t say that I’m opposed to the idea of having a licensing and approval for midwives. Also, I appreciate Ronna’s clarification in #9. It sounds like this is an unfortunate situation that can be over come, by having a more sensible regulatory plan for licensing midwives.

    My wife chose to have her baby at a birthing center in rural Tennessee rather than one at Elizabeth Blackwell Center in Philadelphia.
    Six Midwives were in attendance, four of them were nurses. About four hours after birth, The midwife staying with us, noticed something wrong and began giving CPR. When the nurse/midwife next door arrived, she recognized that the child was lost, but continued CPR. After a forty-five minute drive to a hospital, the child was pronounced dead.

    I don’t think that the midwives did anything wrong. In the years that followed, that particular group (which deals with a lot of home births) made it their mission to identify and prevent a rare form of Strep, which is one of the only things that could take out a healthy baby that fast.
    I’m pretty sure that my wife ‘accidentally’ suffocated the child while trying to nurse him.
    I know that I would have felt better about the birth if we had stayed in the city. My wife was completely opposed to the idea of going into a hospital, and she did not seem to like the idea of having a doctor on call.
    Since that time, I’ve met several midwives, and a couple of them were questionable individuals, because of their rejection of conventional health care.
    I realize that the'”medicalization’ of birth is a negative trend, and that hospitals are un-sterile and profit motivated.
    What worries me is that birth is a risky business. Natural-yes, but not safe. Having a birth attendant who is unprepared to do whatever is necessary to save both mother and child would be ideal.
    What we have instead is medical professionals (and legislators) concerned about putting women and babies at risk, and midwives advocating that mothers avoid the health care system.
    “there is a big difference between outlawing homebirth entirely “

  19. william says:

    "Having a birth attendant who is unprepared to do whatever is necessary to save both mother and child would be ideal."

    No, that would be less than ideal.
    Sloppy writing

    Also, Ronna said;
    "here is a big difference between outlawing homebirth entirely (which some states have done) and the current situation in New York."

  20. […] New York decided last week that attended home births by trained midwives will now be illegal. Fourteen other states >>MORE […]