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.

HBAC Ban in Saskatchewan

“The woman giving birth has the right to decide everything that happens to her body and her baby around childbirth.  She has the right to be respected as the person most invested in the well-being of her unborn child, and the person with the authority to make decisions on its behalf. These are the fundamental human rights of the birthing woman. And yet, these rights are so commonly violated, that most women are not even aware that they have them.”
Human Rights in Childbirth website

Women in Saskatchewan have lost the option to homebirth after cesarean (HBAC). The decision was made by the Saskatoon Health Region, based on recommendations made by obstetricians and liability insurance providers. Until recently, Registered Midwives (RMs) (who are employed by the Health Regions) attended HBACs.

The regulations regarding midwifery in Saskatchewan have been in place since 2008 and HBAC is within the scope of RMs. What is happening is that the local health regions are restricting practices that the province approved.

This decision is not based on research and there has not been a poor outcome as a result of HBAC in this province attended by a RM. Women deserve the right to choose homebirth after cesarean.

This is a human rights issue and the HBAC ban is yet another way birthing women’s human rights are violated. The issue isn’t midwives. The issue isn’t homebirth. The issue isn’t even safety (perceived or otherwise). What it is about is a woman exercising her right to choose the circumstances in which she gives birth and how this move to ban hbac violates that right.

We all need to stand together in solidarity and send the clear message that this is a violation of a woman’s human right. You don’t need to agree with homebirth or even with HBAC.  To debate these issues is to loose focus on the crux of the matter. The truth is that agreeing (or disagreeing) with the choices others make has nothing to do with the fact that we each have the right to choose! That must be remembered, first and foremost.

What also matters is that we stand up for each other.

“The only way birthing women’s human rights will become a reality is if women stand up and demand them.” —Human Rights in Childbirth website

I stand with the mothers and their families who no longer have the option to HBAC. And beyond that, I stand with all those who are lacking access to the maternity options of their choice.

What do you stand for?

If you support a woman’s right to choose the circumstances in which she gives birth, please sign and share this petition:

Click here to read what the The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) says in their policy statement on Midwifery.

The Saskatchewan College of Midwives: Model of Practice on:
Choice of Birth Setting:
“Midwives respect the right of women to make informed choices about the setting for birth. Midwives provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, homes and birth centres, where available. The ability to follow the client is an essential aspect of continuity of care and informed choice. Midwives provide their clients with the information and support required to make an informed choice about the appropriate settings in which to give birth in accordance with the Standards of Practice of the Saskatchewan College of Midwives.”

Accessibility of Midwifery Care
“Midwifery care must be accessible to all women. Mechanisms should be in place to ensure equitable access to midwifery care for all women regardless of place of residence or circumstances.”