Reclaiming Birth rally

// 1 March 2010

Amity Reed invites us to march for maternity care reform.

The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS), along with the National Childbirth Trust and many midwifery organisations, are Reclaiming Birth by organising a march to Whitehall via Westminster Bridge this Sunday, 7 March, with a rally and speeches afterwards on the importance of real options in maternity care. The gathering point is Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Lambeth Road, London SE1 4EQ from 13:00 with the march setting off at 13:30. A march guide and poster promoting the event can be found on the AIMS website.

I’ve written before on the sometimes horrifying consequences of a poor maternity service and have asked you to speak out against the closure of units known to provide pregnant women with excellent care and real options, regardless of their income level or postcode. Unfortunately, despite many organisations’ best efforts, these things are still happening with alarming regularity. Promise after governmental promise to reform maternity care in the UK has gone unfulfilled. Since 1993, we have been told that major changes are needed to provide an adequate service to all women, yet change has not come. As with many ‘women’s issues’, it has been put on the back burner, waiting for some mythical, opportune time in which it can be properly addressed.

And now, a growing number of women are dissatisfied with and even harmed by their maternal care. An October 2009 survey conducted by Netmums in association with the Royal College of Midwives found that 30 per cent were not offered free antenatal classes, 13 per cent were offered no choice in where they could have their baby, 35 per cent reported being left alone during labour at a worrying time, 22 per cent did not feel involved in decisions about their care and 43 per cent of mothers did not have sufficient access to a midwife on the postnatal ward. Things obviously need to change and the Reclaiming Birth march hopes to help bring those changes about.

If you are unable to attend (and even if you are!), please consider signing the petition and writing to the Minister of Health and your MP. Contact details and sample letters can be found here. Monetary donations to help cover the costs of the rally are also appreciated.

Comments From You

Clair Lewis // Posted 3 March 2010 at 8:44 am

Hi great article and shocking news.

These days I think there’s more emphasis on eugenics and medical interference/intervention than actually providing choice about how medicalised our pregnancies are, providing choice about the holistic support people who are pregnant need, lots of which is natural.

For example, as a disability rights activist I think that relevant services should be promoting the feeling amongst all people who have chosen to become parents that our children are equally welcome in this society, not identifying for disposal particular potential oiffspring of people who have already chosen to parent and are pat the usual legal termination date. I consider this simply to be a national eugenic screening program.

Sorry I keep talking about pregnant people, as I have birthed also and I am genderqueer so I feel weird saying women regarding pregnancy when I am talking myself, though I think it’s right that this is a women’s issue and it is about women in the main. Even those of us who are not women who become pregnant (I still identified as female both times) can only do this because of our history being raised as girls and young women, so it still revolves around our common biological experience whatever our actual gender. I think! Hard one to navigate this, just trying to say despite using the word people myself, I think it somehow wouldnt be right, at least not now, to expect everyone to begin to discuss people’s rights when pregnant, as opposed to women’s rights. And if care and support for pregnant people was better, more individualised and personal, less medicalised, I expect it would absorb and support non female people better too.

Thanks for this piece from an ally and in solidarity!

Clair Lewis (AKA Dennis Queen)

Clair Lewis // Posted 3 March 2010 at 8:56 am

I thought this blog might be of interest on the topic of pregnancy and how it starts the ball of disability prejudice and discimination rolling, this is my only public piece of writing concerning being pregnant.

Actually I have been meaning to write for years a strong appeal to feminists to support disability rights when discussing women’s right to choose and pregnancy so if anyone is interested in interviewing an ally regarding this, I wonder if actually it would be better placed as reporting on by a feminist woman than a rant from someone who no longer identifies as female.

Simply, I think it is abusive to make people who have chosen to remain pregnant the pressure o f expecting them to help society out by disposing of children they wanted, by failing to provide for our needs as mothers and our children’s needs, equally. These days many women are made to feel as if any abuse they and their children suffer is their own fault if they don’t take the eugenic way out. I think society is wrongly pitching this as a ‘right to choose’ issue to make it untouchable. I don;t remember women ever asking to take the blame for a whole population screening and termination program. And I have touched on this in another article here:

I think making women take the blame for this prejudice, this neglect of our children, and to be pressured into abortions is disgusting and against our right to make real choices – what about the choice to have all our children welcomed? it’s similarly abusive to making women become parents when they don’t want to.

Belinda Phipps // Posted 8 March 2010 at 7:49 pm

Lots of photos here. It was a brilliant day.!/album.php?page=1&aid=2057045&id=1285782503

Horry // Posted 8 March 2010 at 10:43 pm

I’m late reading this thread, but am surprised that Clair’s comments on “the eugenic way out” have gone unchallenged for so long. Claiming that women who have the wrong sort of abortion aren’t really choosing for themselves but are simply responding to how they are “made to feel” is such a classic, double-edged ploy aimed at restricting choice while pretending to support the very people whose choice you aim to restrict. No woman should have to carry a pregnancy to term without her full consent, freely given at all times (and here I agree with Clair that the law is inconsistent on this). To talk of “disposing of children” when what you’re actually talking about is ending pregnancies, pregnancies which require the full physical and emotional involvement of the mother, is not only inaccurate but harmful, regardless of the reason why a termination takes place. It’s easy to talk about a lack of support for mothers, especially for mothers who are carers – everyone will agree with you, none more so than reluctant, far-from-saintly carers such as myself. Far harder to accept that a woman who decides not to continue with a pregnancy has to be allowed to make judgements about the path of her own life, and doesn’t owe anyone else, for whatever reason, the right to exist. And this certainly isn’t me “asking to take the blame for a whole population screening and termination programme”; however, if people are required to defend those who make genuinely difficult decisions about their own lives and bodies, and the lives of those around them, then I for one am willing to risk being (wrongly and glibly) accused of being a eugenicist.

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