Stumbled on this gem of an article today and thought I’d share it here.
While all providers are bound to respect the right to physical autonomy as well as expressed and informed consent, not all act in accordance to their professed ethic. To complicate matters, hospital protocols mandating the practice of frequent and routine vaginal exams unwittingly enable the ethic of consent to be sidelined. After all, do we really want women saying no?
I’ve also seen care providers strip membranes without explanation, nevermind consent. Once fingers are in the vagina, some providers do what they will to “hurry” labor along. No need to tell the mother beforehand that sweeping the membranes may hurt, a lot. No need to scare her. No need to offer her the option to refuse or stop the sweep mid-point should it hurt too much. Forget about explaining the benefits or contraindications of the procedure.
After describing the birth of her first child that included the rupture of membranes without consent, Elizabeth from Norfolk, VA states: “The whole situation was really traumatizing and I processed it very much like a sexual assault.”
Most importantly, when it comes to routine vaginal exams and procedures during labor, no one involved in birth work should forget that this is a woman’s vagina. This is her most intimate physical space. She has the right, each and every time, to agree to a vaginal exam or procedure – or refuse it.
And what if she refuses?
How then would care providers meet the hospital protocol for documenting routine vaginal exams? Is receiving true and informed consent such a burden? Are vaginal exams even necessary?
There’s a link to part 2 at the bottom of the original article.
CBC new in Canada has recently done a couple of articles about the abuse of birthing women in Canada. I have to say, either Jennifer Blake, CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada is completely oblivious, or she’s lying her ass off. Either way, she’s part of the problem and needs a serious re-education.
The first article is a general discussion of mistreatment during birth. You’ll note that the hospitals have only gotten 700+ complaints, while the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth has heard thousands. Gee, I wonder if maybe women don’t feel safe complaining to the same people who abused them or believe that it won’t make any difference anyway?
The second article is the stories of women who were abused in birth.
There’s also a video http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/thenational/delivery-room-complaints-1.3841168
That’s right all of you insisting that pregnant women somehow lose the right to make medical decisions for themselves and their babies because doctors know best or doctors would somehow be liable, ACOG has come out with a “Committee Opinion” from their ethics committee states that doctors need to respect the patient’s decision and avoid resorting to coercion, guilt, threats or force. Pregnant people have the right to refuse treatment, even in life or death situations.
It also opposes the use of legal action to mandate treatment, something which has been increasingly common despite the example of the Angela Carder case.
While it’s sad that things are so bad ACOG was finally forced to make a statement about it, it’s at least finally, hopefully, a start to fixing the deeply broken medical system in regard to the rights of pregnant women. Hopefully OBs will finally start listening to their patients as a result of this statement. Sadly, women can’t count on that happening.
To read the full statement from the committee you can go here: http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Ethics/Refusal-of-Medically-Recommended-Treatment-During-Pregnancy?
Kimberly Turbin’s battery case against her doctor for performing an episiotomy without her consent, with her actively refusing, will move forward. The judge ruled the case was properly and timely plead as a battery case.
More info here: https://improvingbirth.org/2016/06/kimberly-said-no-an-update-about-the-forced-episiotomy-case/
Thanks to Improving Birth for keeping us updated on this important case!
Sharing this petition for anyone who wants to sign it. It’s horrifying that we even have to have this kind of petition. Abuse of anyone by medical personnel should be non-existent. The fact that thousands of women are abused and violated every year while working to give birth to their children is unacceptable.
There’s also this petition to the UN as well.
At least information about PTSD from birth is finally getting out. Now if only that leads to doctors, nurses and midwives respecting pregnant women, maybe birth rape can be a thing of the past.
There’s a new documentary being released that looks at the way women’s rights are violated during birth.
Check out the link to view the press release for Freedom to Birth
If you still think women are exaggerating, or should just “get over” the assault & abuse they have endured during birth, maybe reading this woman’s horrific story will help you see that there are real crimes being committed against women. Real crimes which are covered up or ignored because “at least you have a health baby”. This violation needs to end. A woman giving birth has just as much right to refuse treatment as anyone else, just as much right to say no and just as much right to have JUSTICE when her rights are violated.
Amity Reed at the F Word has a great new article refuting all those claiming that birth rape isn’t really rape.
Check out her great rebuttal here.