16 Comments

My Body, My Choice

my bodyYesterday 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?

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About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

16 comments on “My Body, My Choice

  1. Where there are double standards, there are false premises. Shouldn’t the premise rather be “His body, His choice”, and by implication “and after that our choice subject to His will”?

    (1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
    (1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV) For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    • Of course, that would be ideal, John, but I’m talking about in the world where God is not held as the authority, and the government takes control.

      • Of course. But I speak more “prophetically”, that is, as an ambassador of another Kingdom. If called out on this issue by this world, this would be my reply. Otherwise I’d be yielding the field and its rules to the world.

        The hard part for a lot of us, and especially when it’s a subject so deeply personal as reproduction, is realizing we can’t play the world’s game by the world’s rules and expect to win. The world has the home court advantage. To return to fiction, here are some (I believe) applicable maxims from my recent post, “The Way of the Blademaster”…

        http://undyingsinger.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/the-way-of-the-blademaster-2014-02-05/

        *Never play an adversary’s game by his rules.*

        *No problem can be solved by the same form of consciousness which created it. [Attributed independently to Carl Jung and Albert Einstein]*

        *Sincerity takes care not to admit evil with the good; truth, not to admit evil instead of good. [Bengel on 1 Corinthians 5:8]*

      • In other words, I’d be challenging the very fact that God is not held in authority and the State usurps His role – and I’d start by pointing out the very double standard you address here as a sure sign of the fallacy of the usurpation. 🙂 False premises lead to double standards – I can’t think offhand of a single exception I’ve ever seen. (Bible commentaries, ironically, are one of the best places to illustrate the point where they disagree with each other.)

        • Again, that’s ideal, but not the reality we live in. That’s a different fight (one worth fighting, to be sure, but not the one on which homebirth rights hinges).

  2. Avily, medical practices of all sorts are regulated by law. As they should be in my considered opinion. Doctors and other health care providers should be held accountable for actions that needlessly jeopardize patients or carelessly cause human suffering.

    It sounds like in the specific case of home birth and regulations on midwives, the thinking has gone too far into the realm of not actually helping to protect mothers (as in the midwife waiting on 911, unable to do anything in the meantime–not good for the mother involved). So I’m glad it hasn’t passed yet and I hope it does not.

    But I think the question we should be asking is: how dare anyone imagine that abortion is an exception to the practice of medical ethics? How can a medical procedure be considered ethical when it ends in the death of one of the parties involved in 100% of the cases where it is successfully executed?

    So I’m saying I guess that instead of women-rights groups fighting for home birth, I’d like to see medical ethics considered a minimal standard for ALL procedures. No special exceptions for abortion or anything else reproduction-related. I hope that makes sense…

    • I absolutely agree about medical practices being regulated by law. Midwives already are. There are already plenty of regulations and restrictions regarding the care they can give, not to mention the amount of training and licensing they have to go through. The issue is not that they shouldn’t be regulated at all, but that they’re having their hands tied and women are having their options restricted by a government that knows nothing about the process and doesn’t care about the rights and choices of the woman.

      And yes, I absolutely agree about abortion. But that’s not what this post was about.

  3. Travis, I like that thought! Believe it or not, except for a vocal minority, the overwhelming majority of Americans are pro-life. I’d like to see our laws and those who make them and enforce them start reflecting this reality more fully, too.

    Avily, I love that last paragraph. What great points! I’m sharing this!

    • I absolutely agree. I am totally anti-abortion. But that wasn’t really the focus on my mind today. 🙂

      Thank you, and thanks for reading!

  4. Great points, Avily. I totally get where you’re coming from with using the same wording that the pro-choice folks use. It highlights the double-standard of the establishment.

    I did home births for both my kids and am thankful to have had the option.

    It is disturbing how many things are being taken out of the hands of individuals and becoming mandated by the government. I grew up believing that I lived in “America, the land of the free”. I thought freedom and civil rights and individual responsibility were core values of our nation.

    But today, I look around and see those rights being stripped away, whether by executive order or ignorant votes. Rights to privacy, rights to medical choices, rights to our children, rights to educational choices, lost and teetering on the edge in some states.

    I pray the American people wake up before it goes much farther, or we’ll be facing some serious hardships in the coming decades.

    • Thank you! That’s exactly the point I was trying to make.
      If the Pro-Choice advocates were REALLY concerned about a woman’s right to choose or keeping the government out of our reproductive organs as they say they are, then they should be equally vocal on this issue, but they’re not.

  5. II see that the majority of respondents to this post is men. I am sorry to say but I avidly agree with the idea of her body, her choice. I had 3 home births and wouldn’t have had it any other way. No one else had a say in whether or not I would have them that way (well we talked about it, but in the end the body that was pushing that baby out was mine). I wonder why men who have never pushed a baby out of their loins were more keen upon responding to this post to fight over who has the authority, than those who have made the choice and done so themselves. I wonder if they have ever been in the room with a laboring woman and asked God to allow them to bear her pain. Because I can guarantee you that it was painful beyond measure and each and every time I thought that I were going to die, but for the will of God I am still here. So returning to the point of the post, a woman who is willing to take on the enormous task of choosing (yes I know that it goes against that antiabortion ideal to state this, but it is a choice), carrying, nourishing, and ultimately pushing forth another life from within her, fully understanding that she might in extreme circumstances be terminating her own, and is less extreme circumstances, completely changing her body, mind, and soul for the rest of her life has at the very least the right to decide where and with whom she is wiling to allow this to happen. I do not want a room full of politicians making that decision for me, ultimately denying me my constitutional rights. Contrary to what some would choose to believe those who choose to have a home birth have for the majority studied about, prayed over the matter, and decided to accept responsibility for their choice of birth. Whereas those who choose a hospital birth have not necessarily done more than accept what is the norm (certainly not all cases, but many of those that I have known) . Don’t mind reading posts written by gentlemen don’t get me wrong, but please before you so willingly serve up advice for my womb go and borrow your own and bear a child and come back and we’ll talk.

    • That is exactly how I feel. I’m preparing to have my fifth home birth this summer, and while I recognize the right of other women to choose to deliver in a hospital, this is exactly how I like it. And I want my midwife to be empowered to give me the best possible care, not restricted by government in what she can and can’t do to help me in the case of complications.

    • Elizabeth, if I were talking about what a woman does with her body on her own, I wouldn’t think I’d have much right. What I did talk about is regulation of medical procedures, that is, regulations that direct and affect the midwife, nurse, or doctor assisting the mother giving birth (let me be clear I don’t support Arizona’s law here, but I do support other laws that pertain to childbirth). I have as much right to think our society should regulate such actions as anyone else–to suggest otherwise would be to say something like that in regard to foreign wars, only my opinion counts because I have served overseas in three different wars, but yours doesn’t if you haven’t.

      That’s nonsense in my opinion. Just as wars affect everyone in the nation, not just those that serve, medical ethics affect everyone who receives medical treatment, i.e. everyone. Plus, the point I was making about abortion was not that this post was about abortion, but my argument for medical ethics regulation NO MATTER WHAT is probably the best logical argument against abortion in my opinion.

      It’s logically inconsistent to say that you can give birth however and whenever you want and laws don’t apply to you because its your body and ALSO say that an abortion is an unethical procedure. Which is why I made the original comment I did, pointing out that whereas I agree that feminists are inconsistent about insisting on a right to abortion but not a right to childbirth however you want to perform it, I don’t think the answer is to say the law has nothing to say about the medical ethics involved. Saying so would lend support TO abortion, which is a position I doubt very much you or Avily agree with.

      I hope that makes sense…

  6. And contrary to popular belief making more laws does not necessarily stop an action, it merely makes it illegal and therefore creates a greater amount of stress surrounding the choice. If it had been illegal to be attended by a midwife, I would have chosen to birth mine at home still even without. Thereby creating a greater likelihood that complications would have occurred, (cord was wrapped around two of my babies necks and one with his arm wrapped clear around his head). I or my little ones might very well have passed from this world but the sure hands of my midwives who were guided by the Lord God Almighty.

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