I am strong
I am weak
Will you listen?
Can I speak?
Will you look me in the eye?
Can I trust you?
Will you lie?
Do you have to use machines?
Have you heard about consent?
Is it urgent? Can you wait?
In Rinat Dray is Not Alone, Part 1 and Rinat Dray is Not Alone, Part 2, we share the basic facts of Rinat Dray’s forced c-section and legal action, and the sections of our amicus brief on the right to informed consent and refusal. In Section III of the brief, we discussed the barriers that women face to accessing redress and accountability for non-consented interventions in childbirth.
On December 23, 2014, Human Rights in Childbirth submitted an amicus curiae brief in the New York case of Rinat Dray vs. Staten Island University Hospital et al for a forced cesarean section that she received in 2011. We submitted the brief together with the US Birth Rights Bar Association, Improving Birth, and the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) as fellow amici, with the purpose of informing the court about the context and significance of Rinat Dray’s experience in US maternity care.
In July 2014 the National Federation of Midwifery Boards (FNCO) has issued a technical statement on the practice of vaginal birth after cesarean sections (VBAC) at home. The statement discourages midwives to support and assist women in this choice and it openly declares that women cannot exercise their rights in childbirth, stating that:
“[…] the midwife must not suggest nor go along with the woman’s wishes for a VBAC at home. This conduct has to be followed even in case where there is a specific written informed consent because the disproportion between the risks and the benefits makes the exercising of this right unavailable for the woman.”
Suzanne Mohammad* is currently living in rural Jordan with her husband and daughter, Shems. She is a registered nurse and mental health case manager with the International Medical Corps, implementing the WHO’s Mental Health Gap program in primary health care. She is passionate about the psychology of motherhood, the interactions of mental health and family wellbeing, and the empowerment of women, parents and families. She welcomes emails at email@example.com.
Earlier this year, US consumer activists ImprovingBirth.org connected us with Kelly*, a 27 year old woman who experienced a non-consented episiotomy during the birth of her first child. Kelly had posted a home video of the birth scene on YouTube, and was also trying to investigate her options for accountability and redress. She wrote a letter to the hospital describing her experience, but her letter was ignored. She has contacted numerous attorneys in her state, but hasn’t yet found anybody to take her case. HRiC has heard from many women with similar stories. Even though most of her friends and family have urged her to “get over” her experience and move on, she is not over it. She wants her story shared far and wide, and she repeats what we have heard many women say: “I need to do whatever I can to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Kelly’s video is here. For those who may be triggered by watching it, a description of the scene is written below. We honor her strength in sharing her story, in her pursuit of justice, in her determination to take this experience and use it to stand up for every woman’s human right to respectful, non-violent maternity care.
The Human Rights in Childbirth conference consisted of four panels on each of the two days. Each panelist presented for 5 minutes. Some panelists used slides; others did not. The details of those panels’ topics, and the slides presented by some panelists, are available on the individual panel links below.