I’ve received a number of responses to some things I’ve written or articles that I’ve shared about the blatant abuses that women endure, routinely, in the maternity care system. They go something like this:
“The doula should stand up for that mother!”
“Where’s the partner? He needs to advocate better for her!”
“She should have been better prepared… she should have taken more classes, read more, been taught how to advocate for herself.”
Really, I think the conversation about *who* sticks up for mom in the labor room is somewhat of a diversion from the point.
The fact is, it is often impossible to step in and make things stop in the moment – no matter who you are. Health care providers have an enormous and unjust amount of power and control. They have the ability (and usually protection) of doing whatever the hell they want.
The fact is, abuse happens to women who are extremely educated, who have been proactive, who have taken the right classes, who have chosen a provider they thought they could trust…. Every woman who walks through the hospital doors in labor is at risk for this kind of treatment.
Abuse is indiscriminate.
Suggesting that women and their support people learn how to advocate for themselves and for her sidesteps the real issue – and that is, women have rights that are violated
THIS MUST STOP.
A lone doula can’t stop it. A woman’s partner can’t stop it. But collectively, women have the power to stop it on a grand scale if we start saying:
“We won’t take it anymore!”
If enough women start filing complaints and hiring lawyers…. this has the potential of balancing a concern about liability (and a physician’s motivation to force compliance), with a real and legitimate concern of being held liable for criminal sexual conduct committed against his patient.
We’ve got work to do. We can each advocate – for ourselves, for our partners, for our clients – the best that we can in the culture of dysfunction that we presently exist in. But this is not the end of the story. This is not the solution. Women deserve better than the two options presently offered them of Submit or Resist.
I choose to resist – not just one doctor, not just one hospital, not just for one client. I resist on a system-wide level, and I commit to supporting all women in their rise to do the same.