Sunday, October 21, 2012

Birth activism: let's get involved

There is lots of exciting birth activism going on right now. Please take a minute and join in one or more of these causes!

1. Human Rights Violations in the European Maternity Care

If you're a member of the EU, sign this petition addressed to the European Parliament about human rights violations in maternity care. Sponsored by the Human Rights in Childbirth conference, the petition notes:
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg stated, in the case of Ternovszky versus Hungary, that “the right to respect for private life includes the right to choose the circumstances of birth”. However, many European States have systems of birth care in which women's physical autonomy is routinely violated and their options are rigidly circumscribed.

2.  Your Voice Counts Day

Join women around the world in notifying hospital administrators and care providers about their experiences of giving birth. This movement asks women and their families to mail letters on or around Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22). More about Your Voice Counts Day here. If we want to make changes in maternity care, we need to let care providers and institutions know how we feel about the care we've received!
Did you have a wonderful, empowering birth experience? Did you have a traumatic birth experience that made you feel hurt and confused? Stand up and tell somebody! On Thursday, November 22nd (Thanksgiving) join us in mailing letters to hospital administrators, birth center directors, and other birth workers to tell our stories. How will hospitals and birth workers know how they're doing if we don't tell them? Whether your birth happened sixty minutes ago, sixty days ago, or sixty years ago, your experience matters. We cannot be ignored if we unite and flood these establishments with letters at the same time. Stand up and be counted on Your Voice Counts Day. 
3.  Freedom For Birth

The documentary Freedom For Birth examines childbirth as a human rights issue. It had a global premiere on September 20th. I was tied up that day and unable to attend a screening, but the movement to spread awareness is just beginning. I ordered the DVD last week and can't wait to watch it.

4. Birth Action in Canada

If you live in Canada and have experienced any violation of informed consent or human rights during your birth, please get involved by taking this survey. Organizer Dr. Nancy Salgueiro explains what she hopes to accomplish with these surveys:
Canadian courts have repeatedly reaffirmed a patient’s right to informed consent as well as the right to refuse treatment. IN ONTARIO, the Health Care Consent Act of 1996, clearly outlines your legal right to informed consent....

We have a arranged a group of Ottawa lawyers willing to volunteer to commission legal affidavits of the violations in your birth experience.   Once we compile enough legal affidavits these will be brought forward to force a public inquiry of the systemic abuses to women in childbirth.
She has also provided examples of violations of informed consent:
  • Treatment occurred without YOUR PERMISSION.
  • Treatment occurred after REFUSAL of consent.  (You said, No”)
  • Treatment occurred without fully INFORMED consent.
  • You were not informed or misinformed as to the NATURE OF THE TREATMENT.
  • You were not informed or misinformed as to the expected BENEFITS of the treatment.
  • You were not informed or misinformed as to the material RISKS of the treatment.
  • You were not informed or misinformed as to the material SIDE EFFECTS of the treatment.
  • You were not informed or misinformed as to ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION.
  • You were not informed or misinformed as to the likely consequences of NOT HAVING THE TREATMENT.
  • Consent was given but obtained through MISREPRESENTATION, OMISSION, COERCION or FRAUD.
  • Consent was given but NOT GIVEN VOLUNTARILY. (Told you have no choice but to consent).
  • Consent was given but DID NOT RELATE TO THE TREATMENT that was provided.
  • You were DENIED RESPONSES TO YOUR REQUESTS for additional information about those matters.
  • You were denied the opportunity to have a DISCUSSION with the DOCTOR/MIDWIFE about the proposed treatment.
  • Consent only consisted of a form to sign when you walked in the door with NO DISCUSSION OR EXPLANATION BY THE DOCTOR/MIDWIFE.
I'm also interested in other recent activism, including the National Rally for Change on September 3 (Labor Day).

Did anyone participate in this or other recent birth activism? Please tell us all about it! 


  1. There have been some birth rallies in Brazil this summer. Here's a link about one:

  2. In Vancouver, some women from Vancouver Birth Trauma ( held rallies to bring awareness about the informed consent issue and PTSD resulting from birth trauma. You can check out one of our videos here.... There are more listed under VancouverBirthRally. Out of this movement, an organization was founded called Humanize Birth. It's worth checking out. Here's our website:

  3. Thank you for sharing such relevant information. At Midwife International, we look forward to becoming involved in these movements to improve birth around the world.

    We are working to do our part in the change by training the next generation of midwives. At Midwife International, we offer midwife training around the world for aspiring midwives. For more information, please visit

    Thank you for all that you do!


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