Government in my Uterus: no thank you

Step right up! History is in the making! Where we land though, nobody knows! Has the time come when Saskatchewan women finally give the government in their uterus the boot? Or will the current laws of the land–that dictate what women can and cannot do in childbirth–stand, sealing the fate of women’s choices from a state of bad to worse?

It’s all up to you folks!

The current provincial legislation under the midwifery act greatly restricts who can provide care for a woman during pregnancy, birth and postpartum*. Many of us here in Saskatchewan, and elsewhere in Canada, see this kind of regulation of women’s bodies for what it is: a violation.

Step closer so you can hear me! Birth rights are human rights! Alright, alright–going too far here, you say? Well, listen up–I’m telling you straight: this is how it is! Step right up and grab ’em–your rights that is–OR hand ’em over! It’s all up to you. What’s it gonna be?

Seriously though, since women are human (I know, shocker) we can put in the simplest terms:  Current legislation violates human rights.

Who says? What about our Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the Canadian Constitution? Well, Mothers In Action has taken this on and have launched a fundraiser to support a Constitutional challenge against the provincial legislation. From Mothers in Action Go Fund Me page–Who Owns Your Womb:

“We, mothers in Saskatchewan, need your help to challenge this legislation in court. We are raising funds to retain experienced legal council to launch a formal constitutional challenge against the very legislation that is taking these rights away from you, your wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and female friends. The time for us to change this legislation is now! The Saskatchewan College of Midwives is pursuing its first case against an individual in regards to this legislation. This care giver allegedly provided care to a pregnant woman prenatally, during early labor and during her postpartum period. If the charge is successful it will affect the rights of every woman across Canada. We are launching the Constitutional Challenge because It blatantly violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It infringes upon a woman’s right to “life, liberty and security of person”.

The test case has brought this all to a head. And though the test case is separate from the Constitutional challenge we can’t have the latter without the former. Regardless of what rumors are being spread about the circumstances of the charge brought forth by the College of Midwives, the focus must remain on the Constitutional challenge if we care about our rights and the rights of future generations!**

I see some of ya like the circus, eh? Gets everyone out and about, for sure. Lots of by standers milling about. Some of you may be thinking or may have even heard that the fundraiser is for the test case. It is not, no way–nope! Listen, I’ve got something to share with you: I’ve gotta say this quietly, so lean in: you may not notice this folks, but you are in a circus ring. It’s true! Look around! There’s a whole wide world out there! Don’t believe me, you say? Okay…. Your choice.

The real deal here is that larger wheels are turning outside of the circus ring. Our rights as birthing women are at stake.

There are those who will focus on gossip about the case and fail to see the larger picture–that this is about a woman’s right to choose who supports her in birth!

How this challenge plays has out has the potential to affect all Canadian women. Mothers are standing up for their rights and demanding that legislation reflect those rights. Those with clear vision are supporting this challenge!

Securing human rights has never come easy. There is banter and mud-slinging aplenty going on. I say to everyone reading this: do what you feel is right. I will do the same and I will support the fundraiser for this action because it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing it for the next generation. If I’m lucky enough to one day sit in a rocking chair with little ones at my feet I will be able to proudly say I was just one person who spoke up to protect their right to autonomy, their birth rights, their human rights.

Mothers in Action have done an excellent job of laying out the details. Please visit the Go Fund Me page to learn more and keep up to date.

Food for thought as you think about the possibility of a world outside the circus ring (maybe some of you will even choose to take a step and have a gander?):

When has regulating women’s bodies ever improved health or outcomes?

16882198_1482867411.8644.jpg*Saskatchewan Midwifery Act states that only licensed professionals, such as Registered Midwives may: “provide care to a woman and her healthy baby during a normal pregnancy, labour and Post-partum period” (Section 23 of the Midwifery Act, found on Page 12). More links available on the Who Owns Your Womb? by Mothers in Action page.

**Edited from original.

January 7, 2017 Update: Mothers In Action has exceeded their first fundraising goal!  They are moving forward with the next phase of fundraising for the Charter challenge.  Your donations are still needed!  Use the links above and donate today.   

For more information, visit Mothers in Action Website.

Birth as a feminist issue

I am a feminist and I think birth is a feminist issue. These days, feminism might be seen as a dirty word that we aren’t supposed to use for fear of offending anyone. Here is what I think:

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” ― Cheris Kramarae

I am radical enough to believe that birthing women are human beings. That women are strong, smart and capable of making their own decisions and planning their best birth: the birth of their choosing.

Kathi Valeii over at Birth Anarchy wrote this earlier this week:

“Women are, historically, the longest-standing oppressed people group. Throughout time, across cultures and races and religions and locations, women have held the least amount of rights. Telling women to do as they’re told in pregnancy and birth is an example of women’s oppression. The fact that people fail to see birth as an urgent women’s rights or human rights issue is a testament to women’s oppression today.”

For these reasons, how can birth not be seen as a feminist issue? I’m concerned about the hesitation by many feminists to embrace birthing rights in their work. I’ve listened in on women’s conferences where the extent of maternal rights is represented by a discussion of maternal mortality (which is of obvious vital importance) but there’s so much more to maternal health and well being than simply surviving childbirth.

Obviously, strong voices already exist which speak to this notion of birth as a feminist issue and the lack of strong representation from feminism in birth issues has been well noted. A quote by Hanna Dahlen comes to mind:

“There’s been an eerie silence from the feminists on the issue of childbirth and women’s rights around childbirth and I think that stems from the concern that if we associate women with birth we pull them back to the home, we pull them back out of all the advancements that we’ve made. And I think that’s a very sad comment because never before in history have we been allowed to have it all.” Hannah Dahlen, from the film Face of Birth

I feel we are on the cusp of change. Individuals and grassroots organizations are bringing awareness to maternity concerns across the world. It’s my hope that more will embrace birth as a feminist* issue.

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*I thank you for reading regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a feminist. It’s just a word after, all. What you believe and your actions based on those beliefs are what counts.