27 January 2006

Speech to the MBC, April 2005

I was invited to give this speech before the California State Senate, in its hearings regarding the Midwifery Board of California, and whether or not midwives in California should be allowed to attend those attempting vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC. I ended up not delivering it live, due to being seven months pregnant and not up to making the journey to Sacramento. It was, however, read for me. I'm posting it here so that it doesn't end up lost forever in the files of the State, or worse, in my Sent folder...

Ladies and gentlemen.... I would like to speak to you, not as a woman who was cut open for the most fatuous of reasons, not as a woman who, because her baby was breech, or her care provider was fearful, or it was the day of the big golf game, was subjected to needless abdominal surgery. I would like to speak to you as a consumer. I don't need to appeal to your emotions or tell you my story; if you were interested in the stories of women who have survived their ceseareans, you'd be members of ICAN, and I'd not have a new thing to say to you. Here's what I will say to you, though. The wrangling between midwives, OBs, various medical regulatory boards, and insurance companies that has created the hostile VBAC climate in California has led me to embrace the idea of unassisted birth as my safest option. And it's not as radical as you might think; here in the western US, we are the daughters of frontierswomen, who had unassisted births as a matter of course, of recorded family history, and of not inconsiderable pride. There is a rich heritage there, ready to be taken up again. Which means that because you, collectively, were unwilling to work with me, were unwilling to practice unemcumbered, evidence-based, family-centered, respectful medicine...because none of you were willing to support me in VBAC, I stand before you as somewhere around $5-7k of lost revenue for the midwives of my area, or somewhere between $10K and $20K of lost revenue for my local hospital/OB. Multiply by that by the size of the family I plan on having. Then multiply that by the number of women I speak to every day on birth-related email groups and message boards, at playgrounds, at libraries and grocery stores, who are in the same position as me, and who are arriving at the same decision as me. That is a lot of lost revenue. Any retail business can tell you that one unhappy customer tells 10 other people. I am here to tell you, I'm not merely unhappy. I am angry. I am a grown, responsible, homeowning, taxpaying, fully-employed adult, and I will not sit still for some group of regulators to impose language like “patient will not be allowed a trial of labor” on me. I will not be "treated" for my normal, healthy pregnancy by someone who is less conversant with the relevant research than I am. I will not be marginalized. I am voting with my feet. I am voting with my hard-earned dollars. And I am tired of your wars. End them. Realize that we are your market, and your survival demands that you be more responsive to your market than you have been. Because we *will* keep having babies, and as long as you contine on this path of denying us VBACs, we will begin, in greater numbers, to realize that we don't need you.


At 1/28/2006 09:09:00 AM, Blogger rubelin said...

Hey, have you heard about THIS http://www.collegeofmidwives.org/#Faiths%20Report So far as I can tell, they heard and they are letting the MOTHERS make the decisions now.

It's too late for so many mommas but I am not dreading my next pregnancy quite so much.


At 1/28/2006 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Ingrid said...

Excellent! Very well written. Do you know how it was recieved?

At 1/28/2006 06:58:00 PM, Blogger ElementalMom said...

Not well. By anyone. Pissed off the midwives, the regulators, and the OBs unilaterally. Which means, of course, I did my job. =)

At 2/01/2006 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Isabel said...

Nice work :) That is the one thing they need to hear, that too few people have been smart enough and bold enough to say to their faces.

Women don't have to be patsies and victims nearly as often as they're assumed to be. You made that very clear here. Rock on!

At 2/11/2006 01:48:00 PM, Anonymous Margaret said...

Thanks for your humor and direct response to this very important issue. Fairly clear why it may not have been taken well---our safe base of "normal" is seldom shaken without quivering ourselves. I am a nurse-midwife in Ohio with extensive home birth and hospital birth experience, and it is refreshing when someone speaks the truth, and even moreso when they receive the services so due them. Best wishes! Margaret


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