National Advocates for Pregnant Women just concluded its 4 day Summit To Ensure the Health and Humanity of Birthing Women in Atlanta, GA, this past weekend. This summit, one of the first of its kind, was organized by NAPW and NAPW’s director, Lynn Paltrow, to explore the grey area where pregnancy, birth and the law intersect. In our increasingly litigious society, the debate about reproductive choice and reproductive freedom is not limited only to the debate over abortion; women are constantly facing difficult decisions, constrictions and legal battles on a daily basis simply to be allowed to give birth where they want, how they want and when they want. It seems like one of the overt aims of this conference was to widen the terms of the discussion and to get the reproductive rights advocates talking with the pregnany and birth rights advocates, demonstrating how these two debates are really just different ends of the same spectrum, and how all womens’ rights are being constricted, whether they choose to have children or whether they choose to have an abortion.
The Summit program covered everything from the overbearing and disempowering birthing machine in this country to our culture’s rampant fear of birth, from the legal restrictions being placed on VBACs, contraception and abortions to the disturbing rise in fetal rights, where mothers with substance abuse problems are prosecuted for “child abuse” on behalf of their unborn fetus, instead of being offered the care and treatment they need….and so much more, more, more. I really wish I could have attended! NAPW even offered several bloggerships to a few of the lucky feminist, birth and reproductive rights bloggers who were able attend. Too bad we didn’t get a longer winter break; school started again on January 9th, alas.
It’s been absolutely fascinating reading the reports and thoughts of many of the bloggers who were able to attend. I’ve linked to a partial list of the blogs on the Summit, so that you can read for yourself. It’s almost as good as being there (although not quite).
Angry Black Bitch: Thoughts inspired by debates, particularly the VBAC v. cesarean delivery debate.
And finally, a word or two from the demi-goddess herself: Lynn Paltrow’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle, On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade