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To The Australian Medical Association - Please remove your opinion from my vagina

by lizzi (follow)
Helping plant the seeds of positive birth. www.sproutbirthing.com.au
Birth (105)     
The other day I looked at how the AMA WA president’s latest round of moral judgement on homebirthers breaches his own organisation’s position statement. Today I want to look at the actual comments he made and how they are just incredibly unethical. As if breaching his own organisation’s position isn’t enough, I want to ensure that there can be no question as to Dr Gannon’s lack of ethics and credibility.

For anyone who would like to refresh their memory about what Dr Gannon said, HERE is a link to the latest article that he is quoted in.

Sorry Dr, I am a human...not a vessel! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dr Gannon’s comments show that he not only lacks the integrity to support his own organisation’s position statement on maternal decision making and set the standard for other obstetricians to follow, but also is completely out of touch with women and current birthing culture.

His comment that women are “preoccupied with the few hours of the birth” copped a scathing response from Erin, from Vic who told me that it “sounds like something a rapist would say. Like, it'll all be over soon and then you can skip happily back to your normal life. It doesn't work that way, nearly all women are profoundly changed by experiencing birth.”

Dr Gannon’s following comment though is actually right on the money “Women will usually do anything to protect their babies”. Yes we will Dr Gannon. Including protecting our babies from iatrogenic complications. Including ensuring that our babies receive the absolute highest quality of respectful care. Including, selfishly, protecting our babies from people like you. People who think that shaming and disrespecting mothers is somehow good for babies. We know the challenges we face when we plan to birth our babies at home. We know what people like you will say. We know that should anything go, even slightly wrong, our private lives will be put on display and our decision making and parenting capacity questioned. But we love our babies enough to risk all that in order to birth them in the way we believe will be safest for them.

Our baby could die in hospital of iatrogenic complications or as a result of our own decisions for an induction, caesarean or other intervention and our motives and decisions will never be questioned. It will be passed off as “just one of those things” and we will be offered support and love. But we are willing to risk our own comfort to keep our babies safe.

It's okay for this guy to risk our babies...But not for us to protect them from him. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As for our desire to “feel special”. Erin again has a response to that: “I don't want to feel special, but I'd like to avoid another debilitating dose of ptsd on top of the one I'm currently battling.”

To which I say – Every birthing woman SHOULD feel special. She is bringing a new life into the world. One that she grew with her own body. They call it an “everyday miracle”. And no matter how busy you are, if you don’t have words for that woman that make her feel special then you are a shitty care provider. All it takes is two seconds to tell a woman “You are doing an amazing job bringing your baby into the world and your baby is lucky to have you as their mother”.

Women are not choosing homebirth because they feel it is “part of their experience of womanhood.” Katherine from Vic chose homebirth: “because I was too scared to go back to hospital after being treated the way we were when having my son.” And “after doing a crapload of research into birth, interventions, and the statistics of hospital vs homebirth, I honestly believed birthing at home was the safest option for both myself and my baby.”

Eirinn from NSW chose to have a hba2c because ”in the absence of an emergency situation, I felt it was far more risky to treat myself as a sick person, when I was not sick. Far more likely that hospital interventions would create the emergency situation that I wanted to avoid.”

No-one has a right to force me into surgery, which risks my life. My body, my choice, my responsibility! Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As a woman who has had 2 caesareans and will, for the safety of my baby and myself, plan a homebirth next time I would have to disagree with Dr Gannon’s idea that the community has a right to say no. And I am exceptionally concerned that ANYONE thinks that they do. Not just because I think that people can keep their opinions out of my vagina, but because this brings up a huge range of legal and ethical issues.

Let’s leave aside that pesky legal issue of my human rights (just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I stop being a human…does it?!) and move straight to the practical and ethical considerations here. Because I don’t think Dr Gannon stopped and thought before he made this comment.

1) How does the community say no? A vote? Electing a council to police women’s bodies and decisions? Picketing women’s houses and harassing them into complying with the cultural norm? Like, really, genuine question there. How is this going to work?

2) What qualifications do these people have that will be making decisions about my birth? Where will they get there information? Will some votes be worth more than others? Do I get a vote?

3) This comment was based on the premise that homebirthers cost the community too much money. But what about all the NICU time for babies suffering from iatrogenic prematurity? All the babies that have NICU time for breathing difficulties following a non-medically necessary caesarean? The additional cost to the community for medication and hospital stay times for women having medically managed births? Nevermind the fact that a caesarean increases the risk of the mother dying and the costs to the community if that happens. I would really like to know how much money the “community” puts up for care of homebirthed babies vs care of hospital born babies before we go further with this topic.

How much do hospital births cost the community compared to homebirths? Image courtesy of Amey Benke.

Dr Gannon’s continuing moral judgement of women who make choices that he doesn’t like (or perhaps it’s choices that don’t put money into his pockets?) continues to chip away at the credibility of the AMA. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the AMA is out of touch with both the legal rights of birthing women, their own position statement and the ethical considerations involved in passing moral judgement on women.

So I ask again…When are the AMA going to get rid of Dr Gannon and start looking into protecting women and babies?


Further reading:

The Australian Medical Association needs to get real

The Australian Medical association: Breaching their own position on maternal decision making

Why Australia NEEDS a maternity care revolution

A letter to my midwife
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What a fatuous and attention-seeking title for an article; by yet another totally self-absorbed woman.
I know...all those women who want to be healthy enough to raise their children?!?! When did the world go so crazy that we now have women believing that they deserve HUMAN rights? They're women for pete's sake - not humans!
by lizzi
Got anything of substance to add there Leemr or are you just trolling? Looks like the latter.

I hate woman shaming like Gannon is doing. Even people who are anti homebirth should stop making nasty assumptions about women's motives, step back and listen and then maybe a meaningful dialogue could happen.
It seems to me that your biggest criticism is that the author is a woman .....

Sounds like some internalised misogyny, I think we should all have group hugs! Being a woman is ok! Being a woman who wants to be in charge of what happens to her body is ok too. That can be a revelation to those among us who have willingly handed their dignity to strangers (male ones at that) during birth so they often demand that all women do so alongside them. Sooo, the only solution is to hug it out!
by meggf
WOMEN AND BABIES DIES EVERY DAY IN HOSPITALS-- those deaths will NEVER MAKE THE NEWS!! I am formerly an R.N. in the maternal infant health field. I have witnessed those deaths- and I've heard stories told to me by my R.N. colleagues of deaths they viewed as 'preventable' and/or 'caused by' the medical staff. The news media in the case of this Australian woman is purposely fostering fear. The bottom line is EVERYDAY mother's and babies die and those stories are not used against the doctors and/or nurses who were involved in such deaths.!!
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