CALGARY, Sept. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Action is required to reduce birth trauma and loss. For the past 15 years Birth Trauma Canada, has been advocating for women who have had negative birth experiences. Through that work it is clear too many women are left with post-traumatic stress and long-term physical damage as well as injury to (or loss of) their babies.
Much of this morbidity could be avoided if women are given honest, credible, unbiased information on the risks and benefits of planning a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth and then supported, without demonization, when they make the best choice for themselves and their child based on what is most acceptable to them. In many of the cases Birth Trauma Canada has dealt with over the years there have been violations of a patient's right to autonomy and right to informed consent.
Dr. Hans Peter Dietz, a professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Sydney, says, "It is as if obstetrics wasn't part of medicine at all. Informed consent in Antenatal Clinic often simply doesn't happen, and even if it does it's commonly incomplete. Women have a right to know the risks involved in their individual birth plan, and to keep them ignorant of these risks is not just wrong and unethical, it is increasingly exposing our health services to medicolegal risk."
Very few women in Canada sue as a result of their birth experiences, largely because the barriers to asserting their rights and obtaining accountability are too formidable. For example:
- The demands of caring for a baby leaves little time to pursue justice
- What amounts to clear violations of patient autonomy and disrespect for a mother's clearly stated medical wishes are seen as part and parcel of being pregnant and giving birth
- Mothers don't want to re-live the trauma in court
- Most mothers don't want their children to know their births were traumatic or thought of in a negative way
- Maternity case law relating to trauma is minimal
- The costs and risks of pursuing litigation are often too great
Patients in Canada have the ethical and legal right to quality, evidence based information about treatment options, they have the right to refuse treatment options they view as unacceptable and they have the right to benefit from medical advancement. Pregnancy and childbirth are often used as excuses to negate these rights. There is a pressing need to defend the human rights of pregnant women, demand better from the existing maternity care system and to minimize the amount of physical and psychological suffering that women endure during childbirth.
To address this problem Birth Trauma Canada has launched the Maternity Legal Action Fund. This is a fund designed to protect and assert women's rights to informed consent and patient autonomy during pregnancy and childbirth by providing financial support to selected cases where women have been deprived of those rights and/or there are significant barriers to legal recourse.
It is hoped that the initiative will raise enough funds to see its first case through the courts and will evolve to be a sustainable force for positive change in maternity care.
Donations payable to BT Canada can be mailed to:
North Hill RPO Box 65136
You can also send electronic contributions through your on-line banking Interac e-transfer system using our email address: [email protected]. Thank you very much for your support.
SOURCE: Birth Trauma Canada
For further information:
Contact: Penny Christensen 403-921-0840 or [email protected]