Human Rights Violations in Childbirth

Women's human rights are being violated in childbirth, will things finally change? Things look promising. New documentary discussing childbirth as the most pressing global Human Rights issue premieres all over the world on Thursday September 20th.
By: Your Birth Coach, Dr. Nancy
Sept. 13, 2012 - PRLog -- Ottawa, Ontario - One needn't talk to many people to hear a childbirth horror story.  The question Dr. Nancy Salgueiro asks is "Women are submitting to or being forced into procedures they do not want or need when giving birth. Why are women laying down and accepting the abuses happening in childbirth?"    

Dr. Nancy Salgueiro, a leading expert in childbirth education and women's empowerment revealed, "There are women and babies being victimized and traumatized by abusive treatment and unnecessary medical interventions in birth."

Discussions with women who have experienced childbirth uncover:

•   Women are given misleading information making them feel as if procedures are necessary when they are not.  
•   Women are being told they are incapable of birthing their own baby and must trust in system that does not support normal birth.  
•   Women are being forced to birth in institutions because of lack of access to birth attendants outside hospitals.  
•   Women are abused and assaulted by procedures done to their bodies without consent and even after consent is withdrawn.  
•   Women are being told they have no choices and must comply with medical orders or be threatened that their child may be taken from them.

The evidence is clear as to how to have a safe and gentle birth and yet the current birth climate is reflecting interventions not supported by research, record high rates of surgical births, and women experiencing post traumatic stress as a result of what has been termed “birth rape”.

Human rights lawyers, film makers, and organizations like the Informed Choice Coalition are looking to change this.

Thursday, September 20, 2012 marks the world premier of the Freedom for Birth.

Freedom for Birth is a 60 minute documentary featuring a Who's Who of leading birth experts and international Human Rights lawyers all calling for radical change to the world's maternity systems.

Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the recent Human Rights in Childbirth Conference at the Hague, the Netherlands says, “the way that childbirth is being managed in many countries around the world is deeply problematic. Millions of pregnant women are pushed into hospitals, pushed onto their back and cut open. They are subject to unnecessary pharmaceutical and surgical interventions that their care providers openly admit to imposing on them for reasons of finance and convenience. Women around the world are waking up to the fact that childbirth doesn't have to be like this and it shouldn't. Disrespect and abuse are not the necessary price of safety”.

Freedom For Birth, made by British filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, tells the story of an Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb.  Ms Gereb has been jailed for supporting women who have chosen to give birth at home.  Anna Ternovsky, a home birth mother supported by Ms Gereb decided to stand up for her right to choose the best birth for her baby.

When pregnant with her second child, Ternovsky took her country of Hungary to the European Court of Human Rights.  This landmark trial was a victory for women and has major implications for childbirth around the world.

Toni Harman, one of the filmmakers says, “the Ternovsky vs Hungary ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 means that now in Europe, every birthing woman has the legal right to decide where and how she gives birth. And across the world, it means that if a woman feels like her Human Rights are being violated because her birth choices are not being fully supported, she could use the power of the law to protect those rights. With the release of “Freedom For Birth”, we hope millions of women become aware of their legal rights and so our film has the potential to spark a revolution in maternity care across the world. In fact, we are calling this the Mothers' Revolution.”

Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives adds, “Too many women across the world are dying or suffering terribly because of a lack of skilled maternity care. This is unacceptable and I call on all Governments across the world to give women the right and access to safe care in pregnancy and childbirth.”

“A safe childbirth should be a fundamental human right for women. Sadly, for many, many millions of women and their babies across the world this is not the case. The world is desperately short of the people who can help to ensure and deliver this human right; midwives. There is a real need for leaders of nations to invest in midwifery care in their countries. I hope that the making of this film will go a long way to help make skilled maternity care a reality for those women who currently do not have access to it.”  explains Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives.

Ms. Hayes-Klein concludes, “Freedom For Birth” holds the answer to changing the system. Birth will change when women realise they have a right to meaningful support for childbirth and claim that right. Birth will change when women stand up against the abuses that are currently suffered in such high numbers and say, No More.”

Watch the film trailer here:

The Informed Choice Coalition is a Ottawa based grass roots organization of mothers and fathers who advocate for evidence based care in childbirth and a women’s right to choose how, where, and with whom she gives birth.  The Informed Choice Coalition has been hosting a 10 month film festival and will be screening the film Freedom for Birth. A panel discussion will follow the screening with local experts in the current state of birth in Ottawa and in women’s rights.  

The CHOICE: A Birth and Baby Film Festival will be hosting the local screening of Freedom For Birth at 7pm at St. Paul University at 223 Main Street.  For tickets and more information about the screening and the film festival please visit the Informed Choice Coalition website at
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Tags:Human Rights In Childbirth, Womens Rightsin Birth, Maternity Care, Hospital Birth
Industry:Pregnancy and Childbirth
Location:Ottawa - Ontario - Canada
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Page Updated Last on: Sep 13, 2012

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