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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reproductive rights don't end with abortion

Everyone's talking about the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, especially celebrities. They are lending their voices and faces to the movement in hopes to get better access to reproductive health services for women everywhere.

That's all fine and good, but I think part of that puzzle is missing. What no one wants to talk about, it seems, are what happens if you want choices in childbirth. Aren't those reproductive rights, too?

Many pro-choice advocates like to say that Republicans "don't care" what happens if you decide to not have abortion. Maybe, but from the looks of it, they don't care, either - if you want a VBAC, home birth, natural hospital birth, unassisted birth, etc. where are they?

Many celebrity faces of the pro-choice movement include Meryl Streep, Ani DiFranco, Demi Moore, Cybill Shepherd and many others. Meryl Streep had at least one home birth, but I don't hear her ever mention it, much less do a commercial for it. Both Ani and Demi also had home births. Cybill Shepherd searched tirelessly for a doctor who would "let her" give birth vaginally to her twins. Why are none of these women on the street corner with other birth advocates holding signs that say "Stop banning VBACs!" or "Fight for normal birth!"? Demi Moore starred in the movie "If These Walls Could Talk" - perhaps she could play Laura Pemberton, the Florida woman who was taken from her home during a homebirth after cesarean and forced by the court to undergo a repeat cesarean?? I won't hold my breath.

While there are many childbirth advocates, one of the few celebrities standing on that side of the fence is Ricki Lake. A face and name you are likely to remember, with enough leverage to get her advocacy out there, she is equally praised and hated, it seems. While one side praises women for standing up for their rights to not carry a baby if they don't want to, others are demonizing those women who stand up for their rights to birth that baby in the manner of their choosing. Why are so many in the pro-choice movement silent on this?

I just read an article from the feminist site Jezebel that in a nutshell says, "Home birth is dangerous. Natural birth advocates are stupid," and unbelievably lists one of her sources as "Hurt by Homebirth," a website run by Dr. Amy Tuteur (who, I think we can all summarily agree, is someone who hates all women that exercise their childbirthing rights more than anyone I've ever known).

Why aren't they saying, "I personally wouldn't have a home birth, but applaud Ricki Lake for standing up for birthing women?" Instead of basically saying "I only support the reproductive freedoms of some women, not all." They similarly malign Michelle Duggar, mom of 19 kids.

We readily support advocates who sail into international waters to provide abortions to women in need, but where is the support for victims of forced abortions in China? I am not saying that providing abortions to women in countries where they are strictly illegal and maternal deaths are high is not a necessary service. But why are you only focusing on one aspect of reproductive care? What are you doing to improve birth outcomes and make childbirth safer for those women?

Where are Meryl Streep, Kyra Sedgwick and others when...
• a woman's doctor won't "let her" go beyond 40 weeks?
• a woman's doctor dispatches the police when she wants a natural birth and refuses the induction appointment?
• every hospital you turn to has banned VBAC?
• you want to have a home birth but your midwife could be arrested for attending it?
• you are bullied endlessly about scheduling an induction or cesarean when you don't want one?
• you want a doula but your doctor or hospital "won't allow" it?
• you are removed from your home during a home birth in progress, only to have a judge sign a court order and demand you have a cesarean? (see the Laura Pemberton link above)
• your doctor, nurses and anesthesiologist repeatedly badger you about accepting an epidural even though you don't want one?
• hospital workers dispatch CPS when you refuse a cesarean, or because you birthed a breech baby at home?
• hospital staff treats you badly during a homebirth transfer?
• your local hospital has a VBAC ban in place and says they will get a court order to force you into surgery even if you show up in labor?
Excerpt from the ICAN VBAC database (currently under construction
and now only open to paying members) 
Please note: The state of New York, or any other state, for that matter, does not have a ban on VBACs. Individual hospitals may have outright bans, or "de facto bans," which means they would allow it but no physician will support you in your efforts

I'm not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with abortion; what I'm saying is that vocal pro-choice advocates should not draw the line at abortion. They should not turn their heads or walk away from those who advocate for choices in childbirth, call them "crazies" or degrade their efforts. If you are pro-choice, I merely ask you to consider directing your energy and focus into supporting the reproductive rights of all women, not just some of them.


Ethel said...

I have, since my VBAC I suppose, realized that being pro-choice goes hand in hand with supporting a woman's right to engage in the spectrum of her reproductive choices. We can not say a woman is an adult if we do not have faith in her ability to choose what is best for herself from her choices sexually to birth control/fertility to delivery methods and means. If you support homebirth you morally and idealistically must also support a woman's right to choose, if you are pro-choice the same is true for VBACs - let us treat women as they deserve to be treated: fully human, fully independent and fully adult.

Christy said...

I disagree with the article, but want to address something the previous commenter said. I completely disagree with the statement, "If you support homebirth you morally and idealistically must also support a woman's right to choose..."

I 100% support homebirth. I've had three homebirths (including two unassisted with one being unassisted prenatal as well.) How does one think I have a "moral" duty to support the intentional killing of babies in the womb simply because I choose homebirth? That does not make any sense.

Homebirth celebrates life and birth; abortion causes the death of a child who will not get to be born. There is no similarity at all between birth and abortion.

I do not have a moral obligation to support abortion simply because I support homebirth. I do have a moral obligation to oppose abortion, the willful killing of innocent, fellow humans.

Dee said...

That Jezebel article made my blood boil! Another reminder that most so called "feminist" blogs are a joke.

The Deranged Housewife said...

What article do you disagree with, Christy? Mine or Jezebel's?

Amanda said...

It's sad that so many fail to see that when you take away one choice for a woman (abortion) you also take away other choices for that woman (home birth, birth control, choosing her own medical procedures).

What so many don't want to acknowledge is that, prior to Roe v. Wade, women actually had to get the consent (read: permission) of a male relative in order to have medical procedures done on her. Thanks to Roe v. Wade, we get to make our own decisions about our own bodies, be it how we birth or if we have that mole removed.