Yesterday here in Arizona there was a rally held in front of the state capitol to protest a bill that was being considered regarding the rights of women who choose homebirths and the midwives who attend these births.
Basically, as I understand it, the bill was written awhile back, last year I think, and both traditional health care providers and midwives agreed on the content (if this isn’t the case, please let me know in the comments), however, the politicians got involved and decided they didn’t like the bill as it was and radically changed it. The bill currently puts severe restrictions on what midwives are and are not allowed to do. For example, midwives are not allowed to attend the births of women whose babies are breech or women who are carrying multiples, and if they do so, they can be charged with a felony. This includes attending a birth and finding out that the baby is a surprise breech. In such a case the midwife would not be allowed to assist at all and would have to stand back and call 911 while the woman labors/delivers on her own (not to mention that EMTs are not trained in this type of delivery), or she will be charged with a felony.
The bill was not shot down today, as was the hope of homebirth rights proponents. It has moved on to the next stage, committee, if I’m not mistaken, so midwives still have time to fight it, but it has made it through one more step on its way to restricting the rights of homebirthers and midwives in AZ.
Now, I am not in any way trying to denigrate the medical professionals who deliver babies in hospitals every day. They are fantastic people who do a fantastic job. Moreover, I personally know several people who would’ve died without the advances in modern medical care that were available to them. Hospitals are wonderful things in many situations.
Neither am I trying to argue with people who don’t agree that homebirths are safe. When I was six months pregnant with my second child, I was in a car accident (someone made a left turn in front of me) and when I was in the ER the nurses asked me who my OB was, and I had to explain that I was planning a home birth with a midwife. One of the nurses said (in an extremely condescending and judgmental tone), “Home delivery is for pizza and UPS, not babies!” If this is your opinion, it’s yours to keep. By all means, carry on. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that homebirths are safe (except in high risk situations) and cause less trauma than hospital births, like this study and this one, but of course, you can find just as many that “prove” the opposite result, because this is the internet and that’s what it does. But that’s not the point. I’m not trying to argue you away from your view.
What I am trying to do is point out the blatant double standard and unfair bias in the politicians and media when it comes to this issue.
If it were a bill restricting the rights of doctors and women who choose hospital births, say, for example, limiting the number of Cesarean sections a doctor could perform or the circumstances under which a woman could get an epidural or episiotomy, do you think the media would be silent?
Or suppose it were a bill restricting the number of abortions a clinic could perform or the methods in which an abortionist could perform an abortion, or the type of woman who would be “allowed” to have an abortion based on her risk factors, do you suppose there would be no outcry against the legislation?
Yet when it comes to a woman deciding how and where she wants to deliver her baby, there is no news coverage. There is no outcry from the liberals about a woman’s choice or her right to do with her body as she pleases. There is no rally of women holding signs that say “Don’t like homebirths? Don’t have one!”
If a woman wants to abort her baby, even late-term, when the baby is viable (able to live outside the womb), the women’s rights groups are all over the issue, screaming at legislators to stay away from their wombs, yet when a woman wants to keep her baby and deliver it in the manner and with the care she chooses, the activists are strangely silent.
Why are abortionists afforded protection, but women who make it their life’s mission to care for women and babies treated like felons? Why are doctors who routinely perform unnecessary procedures defended and protected while caregivers who strive to make the experience of giving birth as natural and peaceful as possible persecuted?
Why is it we as women are only allowed autonomy when we want to murder our babies? Why does the government only have to stay out of our business when we want the freedom to destroy? Why does the government get to choose how and where and with whom we give birth only when we want to keep our children? Why are we only allowed to be pro-choice if our choice is to end the life inside us, not deliver it on our terms?