Archive for August, 2011

Quebec’s Creepy Post-Birth Vaginal Inspection Policy

Heather Mattingsly “will not have to show her vagina to anyone to prove the 5-month-old infant is hers,” begins the Montreal Gazette’s story about one of the most creepy, abusive, nonsensical policies a new mother could imagine:  Quebec’s new requirement that women who give birth without a doctor or licensed midwife have to submit to a vaginal examination to “prove the biological link between mother and child” in order to get a birth certificate. After a barrage of calls from the media, the director of the vital records agency called Mattingsly personally and told her she could pass on the exam.

But the requirement apparently still stands for other women who give birth with unlicensed midwives at home, which some do because the provincial health system doesn’t employ enough midwives to meet demand — women who want a midwife only have a 1 in 5 chance of having one attend their birth. That’s quite a punishment/deterrence policy for going outside the system. One wonders what (or who) prompted the change. Women’s rights groups are calling it “another abuse of women’s bodies” and want the policy reversed.

Twitter Phenom “Feminist Hulk” Revealed, Had Home Birth!

Congratulations to Jessica Lawson, the brains behind Twitter superhero “Feminist Hulk.” (Sample tweet, in all CAPS, natch: “HULK APPROACH SMASHING PATRIARCHY LIKE JUDITH BUTLER APPROACH WRITING SENTENCES: AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO GET JOB DONE!”) Lawson revealed Hulk’s alterego in a Q&A  with the Ms. blog: she is a 28-year-old English Lit PhD candidate at the University of Iowa, a supporter of midwives, and a new mom!

Ms. asked: “Why did you decide to have a home birth? What were some of the challenges you faced in making that happen?”

Lawson answered:

While I value the ways that obstetrical science has made birth safer for women with high-risk pregnancies, mine was a low-risk pregnancy and I was compelled by the many studies that show the midwifery model of care is as safe as hospital birth, often with fewer interventions and post-birth complications. Unfortunately, though Certified Nurse-Midwives legally practice in all 50 states, I gave birth in one of the handful of states which still does not license Certified Professional Midwives. I am active in attempts to push midwifery licensure through our state legislature. I still chose home birth, though, and am so lucky to have labored in an environment that made me feel relaxed and safe, with a birth team that gave me tons of love and support. And for anyone who asks, “What if something goes wrong?” all I have to say is, “Something did go wrong.” I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage and lost about a quart of blood. My birth team responded with speed and skill to stop the bleeding (and they would have transferred me to a hospital without hesitation if they encountered a complication that required additional resources). I owe them my life, and I have nothing but faith in the quality of their care.