Is a Woman in Labor a “Person”? New Assaults on Pregnant Women’s Civil Rights in a NJ Case

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Is a Woman in Labor a “Person”? New Assaults on Pregnant Women’s Civil Rights in a NJ Case The article today in the Huffington Post  about a NJ decision involving a woman who refused to consent to a c-section and then had her baby taken away from her for alleged abuse and neglect is a dangerous precedent that should concern us all.… Imagine being in this women/families shoes.  You have a healthy baby and healthy vaginally birth and because your provider wanted you to give birth by cesarean and you refused.. (there were obviously no problems with having a vaginal birth as both were fine) you now loose all parental rights.  This is shocking! Birth  is a human rights issues and it is clear that in the U.S we are violating women’s right to informed decision-making that includes informed consent and informed refusal.  It is a tragedy and outrage that when a women advocates for what is safest for her and her baby, a vaginal birth she can loose custody of her child.  How can this can happen in 2009?    Working as a doula I see many women labeled as “bad patients” when they don’t want to go along with an assembly line birth in a hospital that is not practicing evidenced based medicine.    Birth is rushed, scheduled and induced for the convenience of a system, not for what is best for each individual woman and baby.  We know that many of the procedures, techniques and treatments that are overused used in obstetrics  today are resulting in harm to mother and/or baby that could be avoided by less invasive, and cheaper options.  It is time for a critical look at our maternity care practices as outlined by Childbirth Connection in their Milbank Report  We must also look at the deeper issues of  women’s rights in childbirth.  This June the United Nations Human Rights Council recognized maternal mortality as a human rights concern.  Maternal mortality is on the rise in the U.S.  An editorial in the  Lancet says: “The resolution signals an increasing trend by the human-rights community to take health issues as seriously as they have taken issues such as torture, the death penalty, and the right to a fair trial…”                      In addition, The UN Millennium Project 2005. Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women. Task Force on Education and Gender Equality. states:  ‘A large body of evidence shows that sexual and reproductive health and rights are central to women’s ability to build their capabilities, take advantage of economic and political opportunities, and control their destinies.’  Yes read this again.. taking away women’s rights in childbirth have long and far reaching consequences and give a strong message about women’s status and value in the U.S. One organization that is working on these issues is National Advocates for Pregnant Women,  (NAPW) View the you tube video to understand more How Personhood USA & The Bills They Support Will Hurt ALL Pregnant Women Please let your voice be heard on this issue, as it is central to women’s status, health and the health and well-being of  future generations.   

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