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East Sussex, England — Launching on Youtube on Monday, December 17, ‘Freedom For Birth’ is an abridged 15 minute version of the full-length campaigning documentary made by British filmmaking couple, Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford as part of their “One World Birth” global film project.
‘Freedom For Birth’ features academics, doctors, midwives and Human Rights lawyers calling for all women to be afforded real choice as to where and how they give birth and for those choices to be respected by all care providers.
Toni Harman, the film’s co-Director, says, “We were inspired to make the film after the difficult birth of our daughter five years ago where a cascade of medical interventions culminated in a caesarean. As parents in the hospital delivery room, we felt shut out of the decision-making process. We felt we weren’t offered any real choice. When we started making Freedom For Birth, we discovered that the right to choose the circumstances of where and how a woman gives birth has recently been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights (Ternovszky vs Hungary no. 67545/09 14 December 2010) and yet, women’s rights in childbirth are routinely being violated not just in Europe, but in many countries around the world.”
‘Freedom For Birth’ highlights how, in some countries today, women who want to have a normal vaginal birth are sometimes forced by judges to have c-sections and some are threatened with having their baby taken away by child welfare services if they refuse to sign the consent form. In some countries, if a woman wants to have a home birth supported by a midwife, those midwives face criminal prosecution. Some midwives like Ágnes Gereb in Hungary have even been imprisoned.
Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the Human Rights in Childbirth conference held at the Hague earlier this year, says, “Too many birth professionals are labouring under the illusion that a woman can be told what to do and that her job is to do what she’s told. When a birthing woman doesn’t do what she is told, but instead asks for the information necessary to make a decision appropriate for her and her baby, these providers assert that she is suddenly in conflict with her unborn child and use this false conflict to justify coercion and force.”
The full-length (58 minute) ‘Freedom For Birth’ documentary launched on September 20, 2012 with over 1,000 simultaneous screenings held in 50 countries in 17 different languages including screenings hosted by the Royal College of Midwives in London, the Museum of Motherhood in New York and Yale University.
Alex Wakeford, the film’s other co-Director says, “We estimate that 100,000 people saw the film on the launch day. It prompted many to set up local action groups and create petitions. But what if, through the release of a free short web version of our film, we could take this even further? We want as many people as possible to see the film so that they become aware of their rights in birth. The next step is to connect individuals who feel disenfranchised, who feel passionate about this issue but who feel their voice isn’t being heard. What if we could connect all these voices together into one loud powerful voice to help bring about change? Suddenly, this is more than just a campaign, this has the potential to be a global revolution”.
Hermine Hayes-Klein adds, “‘Freedom For Birth’ has been embraced around the world as more than a documentary, but as a conversation about the issues of universal and fundamental concern to birthing women everywhere, a conversation that everybody can join. The film has literally gathered individuals into regional groups and regional groups into a global movement”.
The online campaign is being launched on the “One World Birth” web site and on YouTube on Monday, December 17 2012. For more information, visit http://oneworldbirth.net.