In early July 2014, Bayfront Health in Port Charlotte, Florida, threatened to force Jennifer Goodall to undergo cesarean surgery “with or without her consent.” Jennifer resisted. With a campaign spear-headed by Cristen Pascucci of Improving Birth, a large-scale consumer revolt ensued, waking thousands of folks from a cultured, complacent, do-as-you’re-told birthing slumber. Jennifer went on to birth her baby via consented cesarean after a trial of labor at another hospital. This is our thank you.
No person should have to fight on the front lines of a movement during such a vulnerable time as pregnancy and birth. But you were bold and brave and stood your ground in confident resistance.
Thank you from the pregnant folks who have gone before you; countless women who have faced the exact same threats – threats to coerce them into any number of things, from unwanted vaginal exams to inductions, and yes, major abdominal surgery.
So many women felt vindicated because of you.
Some found honor in their feelings about their own, traumatic experiences.
Many found a voice.
Voices that had been shut down, told to shut up, that were trampled and shred to pieces with every, “at least you have a healthy baby,” and quizzical glance.
Their voices shook, their hands trembled as they typed, #jenniferisnotalone.
You are not alone, and that is a sad fact. There is not much solace in noting the shared and horrifying experience of knowing you might be sliced open like a caught salmon against your will; or that authorities might come, like sanctioned terrorists, to snatch away those you hold dearest – the sweet Littles that fuel your need to be healthy, to be free, to be present. Your experience must have been lonely; it must have been terrifying.
Thank you from the countless women who will come after you. Women who will have heard of your story, who will have seen the uprising of the folks that chanted in solidarity with you, who cried real tears in too-real understanding, who screamed and pounded their fists, who wrote letters and tweeted and rose up in righteous rage over the idea that there are legitimacies to overpower a woman, to hold her down, put her in her place, and ravage her.
for opening your mouth, for putting pen to paper, for saying, “It’s not okay.”
for not rolling over, for doing the hardest thing.
for stomping out a path; for etching markers in the trail, each swipe of your survival knife, brutal and intentional.
for inviting so many to awaken, to groggily see the truth, to want to rise up alongside you.
for inspiring us – so many of us, across this country and across the globe.
In solidarity and sisterhood,
Kathi Valeii, founder of Birth Anarchy
and the gobs of inspired folks from the Birth Anarchy Community who asked to have their names included – scroll through to see them ALL!
Nikki Ki Hauser
Michelle Barnett Rucker
Karen Elizabeth McGrath
Nicole Metzger Kedzie
Jasmine Rae Ojala
Jesse Moffett Kincaid
Anna Stead Lacôte
Eleanor Stoltzman Gray
Melissa Louise Byram
Lisa Marie Swift
Tabitha Prince Bush
Kirstie Reiss Hughes
Leah Gruenke Arndt
Brandy Dureich Cormier
Tracie Warden Dengá
Meg Novak, CPM
Katie Jenkins McCall
Jenni Price Bell
Lisa Maher Flato
Allison Mecham Evans
Meredith Gibson Buckley
Jessica Oliver Watkins
Gresham Doula Joce
Elizabeth Von Der Ahe
Julie Nitz Doula
Hiranya De Alwis Jayasinghe
Healthy and Free TN
Emma Leigh Sopcak
Lindsay Askins Windt
Wendy Root Askew