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.

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