2.9
May 26, 2010

Birthing Rights are Womyn’s Rights.

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.

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