11 September 2008

Moral panic Thursday!

I love a good moral panic. As you probably have noticed, I haven't even touched on Sarah Palin and all of this teen pregnancy tomfoolery. Rather, my attention turns to freebirthing. Yet again.

According to the Daily Mail, as a result of a midwife shortage in the UK, women are being 'forced' to have 'dangerous' homebirths. The maternity system in the UK is so overcrowded, understaffed, and apparently un-hygienic, many women have opted to have their babies at home. Dame Karlene Davis, a midwife said:

'Technology and the internet has led to people thinking they can do freebirthing. If a woman has had a positive experience then people think it’s something worth trying."

Damn that technology. Putting ideas in women's heads. Lead them not into temptation! Even though the British government is unwilling to acknowledge the midwife shortage and birth rates continue to rise in the midst of a crumbling system, I highly doubt that the majority of women in the UK are freebirthing or even homebirthing, for that fact. In most of the West, homebirthing is still rare and unfortunately, women are more willing to suffer the ills of public medical systems rather than have babies at home because they are not given the proper information nor the support to make that choice if they so desire. All of this malarky and panic over freebirthing is evidence of a resounding fear that if women give birth on their own or at home with a midwife, obstetric 'expertise' will be undermined. In Australia, the government is considering giving midwives the power to prescribe medications and to deal with Medicare as a way to cope with understaffing. And why not considering births in Oz are at the highest level since 1971? Of course doctors have attacked this proposal with more 'risk' talk saying that more babies will die if midwives have a greater role in hospitals. No wonder women in Australia and beyond are sceptical of homebirth and freebirth: doctors keep telling them they will die or their babies will die. Sure there are always risks but scare tactics will not fix underfunded and understaffed maternity systems.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com/5kf22l

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