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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Local and national organizations form coalition to support Florida House Bill 367



Coalition in Support of HB367

Vote YES on Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women

As organizations that stand for rights and justice for all, we urge you, with one united voice, to cast your votes in support of this bill. Let the State of Florida make a stand for Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women. This historic legislation bans the inhumane and unjustified practice of routine shackling of those who are incarcerated during pregnancy, labor and postpartum. We stand united in support of HB367 and in support of dignity and safety for all pregnant persons and their babies. By pa ssing the Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act the state of Florida will become the first state in the South to pass anti-shackling legislation and will join a host of other states nationwide to ban the practice. Florida will be setting an essential standard for the human rights, dignity, health and safety of pregnant people regardless of their circumstances.

There are many considerations in voting yes on HB367. There is no sound reason to vote against it. Shackling does not make anyone safer; it actually creates more danger for the mother and baby. As the bill states, “restraining a pregnant prisoner can increase health risks and the potential for physical harm to the woman and her pregnancy.” The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals Service, the American Correctional Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association all oppose restraining women during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery because it is unnecessary and dangerous to a woman's health and well being.

During pregnancy, shackling increases the risk of falls and decreases the woman’s ability to protect herself and the fetus if she does fall. Shackling during labor may cause complications during delivery such as blood clots or fetal distress. Precious time can be lost unlocking and removing restraints, if emergency diagnostic and life-saving procedures become necessary[i]. Shackling during labor and birth causes emotional distress and trauma and is cruel and unnecessary. Shackling during postpartum recovery can prevent mothers from bonding with and breastfeeding their babies for the short time they are allowed to be together.

There is no need for shackling, as the vast majority of incarcerated women are there for nonviolent crimes. The average prisoner in a women’s prison is of reproductive age,[ii] is a mother to minor children, and is incarcerated for crimes of poverty and addiction[iii]. Many are survivors of abuse. Most are already in high-risk pregnancies[iv]. What incarcerated people need are dignified and comprehensive health services. The practice of shackling only furthers victimization and increases risk.

The practice goes against the 2002 Supreme Court precedent protecting prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights to be free from inhuman treatment.[v] The United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture have declared that shackling violates the United States’ obligations under international treaties ratified by the United States.[vi] The practice also violates the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.[vii]

The rights of all of Florida’s citizens, including the incarcerated ones, must be upheld. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure safe and dignified pregnancy, birth and postpartum conditions for everyone in state custody. Birth Justice upholds every person’s right to birth in dignity and with respect. It is every person’s right to birth free from chains. We demand Birth Justice for all.

We are making our voice heard. We citizens urge you, representatives of the people of Florida, to make a stand and make history- vote YES on the Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act.

Sincerely,


Mobile Midwife

International Center for Traditional Childbearing

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW

Sisterhood of Survivors

Salad and Politics

Commonsense Childbirth, Inc.

Birthworkers of Color United

Kindred Healing Justice Collective

Florida New Majority

Mi-Lola

Miami Workers Center

Florida Legal Services

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Florida Friends of Midwives

Project MotherPath

WeCount!

The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance

California Black Women's Health Project

The Aleph Institute

Right2Birth

Ital Path

Loving Hands Midwifery

ACLU of Florida

Gainesville Doulas and Co

Spirit of Life Midwifery

Amma Midwifery

Amnesty International USA

National Advocates for Pregnant Women

National Women’s Law Center


[i] Health care for pregnant and postpartum incarcerated women and adolescent females. Committee Opinion No. 511. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2011;118: 1198–1202

[ii] U.S. Dep’t. of Justice, Nat’l Inst. Corrections, Correctional Health Care: Guidelines for the Management of an Adequate Delivery System 233 (2001), at http://www.nicic.org/pubs/2001/017521.pdf.

[iii] Latina Advocacy Network, New York Letter of Support. (April 2009). Some of the facts and references herein are borrowed from this letter.

[iv] Jennifer G. Clarke, Megan R. Hebert, Cynthia Rosengard, Jennifer S. Rose, Kristen M. DaSilva, Michael D. Stein, Reproductive Health Care and Family Planning Needs Among Incarcerated Women, Am. J. Pub. Health, 834-839 (2006).

[v] The Supreme Court has held that prison officials have an obligation under the Eighth Amendment to ensure humane conditions of incarceration and to protect inmates from substantial risks of harm to their health or safety. See, e.g., Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 738 (2002).

[vi] Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: United States of America, 87th Sess., ¶ 33, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev. 1 (2006); U.N. Human Rights Comm., Conclusions and Recommendations of the Committee against Torture, ¶ 33 CAT/C/USA/CO/2 (July 23, 2006).

[vii] Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, U.N. Doc. A/CONF/1Annex 1, E.S.C. res. 663C, U.N. ESCOR, 24th Sess., Supp. No. 1, U.N. Doc. E/3048, Rule 33(c) (July 31, 1957).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take Action for Birth Justice TODAY before 2pm!

Take Action
HB 367 Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act!

We at Mobile Midwife believe that every mother and parent deserves a healthy pregnancy, every baby deserves a healthy birth and everyone deserves to bring their baby into the world with dignity. We are calling you now to take action for Birth Justice in Florida Current policy in Florida prisons allows for physical restraining of pregnant, birthing and postpartum women, which denies health and dignity. We are calling for an explicit ban of this inhumane practice. We are calling for the Florida House of Representatives to unanimously pass HB 367 Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act. We need your help!!!

The good news is that HB 367 Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act has passed the Florida Senate and has been added to the Florida House of Representatives calendar. We had an impact last week when it passed the Criminal Justice committee.

We need you now!!! Our goal is a unanimous pass for the bill in the Rules committee on Tuesday afternoon, January 24 at 2:00 pm. Let’s flood the email and voicemail inboxes of the committee members today so that they hear our voices loud and clear before the vote on Tuesday afternoon: Pass HB 367 Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act!

What you can do now:

Here is the text of the bill: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/524

Here is a link with some analysis of the bill.

Here is a sample email
Dear Committee Member,
I know that it's time to make a decision on HB 367 Health Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act.
Please vote YES on HB 367 because

(Below are suggested talking points you may use in your emails and messages, or you may create your own)

Shackling doesn’t make good sense.
As the bill states, restraining a pregnant prisoner can increase health risks and the potential for physical harm to the woman and her pregnancy. There is no need for shackling, as the vast majority of incarcerated women are there for nonviolent crimes. Shackling does not make anyone safer; it actually creates more danger for the mother and her baby.

Shackling is bad for medical care.
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshals Service, the American Correctional Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association all oppose restraining women during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery because it is unnecessary and dangerous to a woman's health and well-being” (from HB 367). Precious time can be lost unlocking and removing restraints, if emergency life-saving procedures become necessary. All decisions pertaining to woman’s body during her labor and birth, should be made by that woman and her healthcare providers. Shackling during labor may cause complications during delivery such as hemorrhage or fetal distress.

Shackling is bad for families.
It is hard enough that most incarcerated mothers are forced to say goodbye to their newborns shortly after delivery. Shackling compounds this by preventing mothers from holding and breastfeeding their babies for the short time they are allowed to be together. Birthing restraints also causes emotional distress and trauma for many.

Shackling is bad for Florida.
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia have all outlawed restraining during labor and delivery. Let’s not be the last state to ban this inhumane practice. The rights of all of Florida’s citizens, including the incarcerated ones, must be upheld.

Shackling is an injustice and a violation of human rights.
Birth Justice upholds every person’s right to birth in dignity and with respect. It is every person’s right to birth free from chains. State violence in the form of involuntary physical restraints is a barrier to the health and rights of folks in our communities who are locked up. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure safe and dignified pregnancy, birth and postpartum conditions for everyone in state custody. In solidarity with incarcerated women, we recognize that it is time to reclaim our bodies and our lives.

Vote YES on HB 367.

Sincerely,
Your name

Rules Committee Members

We thank each and everyone of you. Stay tuned for updates....
For birth justice everywhere,

Mobile Midwife

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Midwives, Justice and the Corporatization of Birth




This statement is made in solidarity with Occupy movements around the world...

Birth Justice is a mother’s right to ensure the well being of herself and her baby; it intersects with all aspects of our lives – social, political, economic, spiritual and emotional. When mothers are empowered, a community is transformed. If we bring our babies into the world with justice, in the natural way, without anyone telling us how to do it, then it nurtures our innate power as mothers to create a free world for our children to play and learn and grow. Birth Justice includes access to holistic, humanistic and culturally centered prenatal, birth and postpartum care (the midwifery model of care), the right to choose when, where, how and with whom to birth as well as the right to breastfeeding support. The complete range of pregnancy, labor and birth options should be available to everyone as an integral part of reproductive justice. These are our rights as mothers.

What is a midwife? Midwife means “with woman.” Midwives are independent care providers for pregnant women. Midwives are the experts in low risk pregnancy and natural birth. They work to meet their communities' needs in homes, birth centers, clinics and hospital facilities. Many midwives accept Medicaid and insurance. The state of Florida has licensed midwives since 1931.

Midwives help women and communities understand the importance of education, health, nutrition, healing and autonomy over one’s own body. Mobile Midwife aims to raise the health of the community and bring the art of midwifery back into our communities by increasing women’s knowledge of their rights and their access to midwives.

Midwifery care has a rich herstory in communities of color, particularly in the Southern region of the US. Black midwives traditionally provided care for their communities during the harshest times in history: slavery, Jim-crow, and Civil Rights eras. They held up health and humanity in dehumanizing times. Midwives also did a lot of holistic health care in general and were an incredible resource in their communities.

Corporatization of Birth

Pregnancy and birth are big business in the United Stares. Currently, the c-section rate in Florida is skyrocketing because the current corporate healthcare system values profit over people and liability over lives. Many women who birth in hospitals are pressured, coerced or forced to have c-sections. Florida currently has one of the highest surgical birth rates in the country. In Miami-Dade county, more than half of babies are born by c-section.

This is not about dollars, this is about health. This is about lives, the lives of our sisters and our babies. African American women are almost four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women. The infant mortality rate in Florida is on the rise when it should be declining. In Miami-Dade County, Black babies are more than twice as likely to die in the first year of life as white babies. These are human rights violations.

This is about our human right to be nurtured, cared for and supported through the natural processes of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. We will accept nothing less.

Mobile Midwife’s vision is to make midwifery care accessible and central to all, especially Black, Brown, immigrant, indigenous, queer, transgender, low-income and other marginalized communities. Through Mobile Midwife, we aim to expand Birth Justice with story telling, popular education, and community organizing to improve access to midwifery care.

Stop the corporatization of our bodies and our births!

Support your local midwives!

Access to quality healthcare is a human right!

Access to midwives is a human right!

Maternal and infant health are human rights!

Resources

For more info about Mobile Midwife: www.mobilemidwife.org

For more info about the corporatization of birth: www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com

For more info about Black midwives: www.ictcmidwives.org

Find a Florida midwife: http://184.168.34.108/ffom_dnn/MidwiferyinFlorida/FindaMidwife.aspx


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Report from the SE Summit


The ICTC Southeast Black Midwives and Healers Summit was amazing - everything from the southern hospitality at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church to Erykah Badu learning to palpate to the elders from Mississippi sharing their birth stories. It was also inspiring to get some grounding in Reproductive Justice issues - including the intersection of birth rights and abortion rights. The personhood amendment is on the ballot in Mississippi, so we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers there, working to keep the laws respecting our humanity. Our bodies, our lives! Special thanks to Sistersong for your work on this issue.

Mobile Midwife Co-Director and ICTC Florida State Representative, Jamarah Amani, was featured on the Brazen Women panel. She explored the Birth Justice framework and the role of birthworkers as community organizers. There were some blazing organizations present, including Birthing Project USA and Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective.

Next year, in October 2012, the ICTC Black Midwives and Healers Conference will be held in Miami, FL. Mark your calendars - what an exciting event it will be!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy Anniversary BJ blog... Happy Midwives Week... End Shackling NOW!


Greetings in the spirit of Birth Justice!

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Birth Justice blog! It also National Midwives Week in the U.S. and Licensed Midwives Week in the state of Florida!

In this light, we are honoring the struggles of incarcerated women who labor and birth in chains. Who are not able to hold and breastfeed their babies because their bodies are locked down. Whose babies are robbed of their right to enter the world in peace. Whose human rights are being disregarded through state violence.

Please check out the article below from COLORLINES about the growing movement to end this dangerous and unjust shackling once and for all.

Stay tuned to the Birth Justice blog for more about anti-shackling work in Florida and beyond. Coming soon!


The Movement to Stop Prisons From Shackling Women in Labor Builds - COLORLINES

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No First Birthday


No First Birthday

by Shafia M. Monroe

Worldwide the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), is participating in September Infant Mortality Awareness Month with the goal of reducing infant mortality for every family. Please join the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), in observing September Infant Mortality Awareness Month by sponsoring a birthday commemorative called "No First Birthday".

You can observe "No First Birthday" by placing and lighting candles on a large sheet cake for each baby who died before age one, in your state or community. In their memory, we will call out one name per candle as the candle is blown out. This is in recognition of all babies who had "No First Birthday" due to infant mortality causes. In place of the happy birthday song, we will have a moment of silence and reflection. The cake is not to be eaten but will receive a burial instead. However, other food will be available to share. Parents are welcome to tell their story of the loss of their baby, and Unnatural Causes: When the Bough Breaks DVD, will be shown followed by discussion on solutions to end infant mortality. Please contact ICTC for the "No First Birthday" template.

Infant mortality is the death of a baby, who dies before reaching its' first year birthday. It's devastating to the family and their community. Their loss is our loss. There are many medical reasons for infant mortality, such as congenital abnormalities, premature birth, low birth weight, Sudden Unexplained Infants Deaths, (SUID), accidents, and pregnancy related maternal complications.

The USA infant mortality rate in the African American/black community has remained two and half times higher than the national average for decades and is climbing again.

In 2006 the African American infant mortality rate was 12.9 per 1,000 live births while the white infant mortality rate was 5.57 per live births. This is almost two and half times higher for black babies.

Infant mortality is deeper than just medical factors, it is a societal problem reflecting the health of a nation. Infant mortality is a spiritual and ethical social problem as well, that results in medical consequences for the infant, leading to its death.

In 2005, 46 percent of the black infant mortality rate was related to preterm birth. Preterm birth is tied to stress, poverty, poor nutrition, poor breastfeeding rates, lack of quality health care, community-based midwives and doulas.

As midwives, doulas and birth workers we can strengthen our resolve to reduce infant mortality through preconception health, access to early and culturally appropriate prenatal care, long term breastfeeding, father support groups, home visits, and advocating for social justice. Midwives can be the voice to challenge the societal inequities that contribute to poor birth outcomes; such as poverty, toxic environments, racial profiling, food deserts and racism induced stress. All of these determinants have been proven to contribute to infant mortality in the black community.
1. "Neonatologists James Collins and Richard David believe that African American women are at increased risk during pregnancy, not because of something innate to their biology, but because of the cumulative impact of racism they experience over their lifetime - an impact that can outweigh even the benefits of higher social and class status".

According to the CDC, infant mortality (death of a child before one year of age)
is "associated with a variety of factors such as maternal health, quality and access to medical care, socioeconomic conditions, and public health practices''(www.cdc.gov).

As midwives, doulas and healers, we must be the voice for social justice; and follow the example of the Egyptian midwives. They refused to racially profile the Hebrews and would not participate in killing their first born. Birth justice, is a byproduct of social justice. Birth justice for black women must address racial profiling, health inequities, and human right issues. It includes the elimination of easy access to drugs, guns and gang violence in the black community, fair employment opportunities, housing, better transportation systems facilitating pregnant and new mothers accessing culturally competent care, and increasing the number of black midwives, doulas and healers.

Infant Mortality Awareness Month, calls midwives, doulas and birth workers to educate themselves and others on the social determinants of infant mortality. Join ICTC to help bring awareness and solutions to reducing infant mortality.

Please join the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), in observing September Infant Mortality Awareness Month by sponsoring a birthday commemorative, called "No First Birthday". Please contact ICTC if you want to be a part of the planning. We will host the event in the last week of September at the new ICTC site, 3821 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, 97212.

Infant Mortality Awareness Resources

www.ictcmidwives.org/resources.html

http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=9026&lvl=2&lvlid=195

www.cdc.gov/omhd/amh/factsheets/infront.htm

http://revcom.us/a/087/infantmortality-en.html

http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/episode_descriptions.php?page=2

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mobile Midwife LAUNCH PARTY!

Greetings beloved community!
Our LAUNCH PARTY IS TONIGHT! See you on the BEACH!