Saturday, December 15, 2018

Fighting for Midwives: The Personal is Political

Peter Beinart recently wrote a perceptive article in The Atlantic: "The New Authoritarians are Waging War on Women," that argues that the one thing in common with all the authoritarian-type regimes sprouting everywhere, is keeping women in place:
"The problem with both American-born story lines [that Trump was voted by the  impoverished fearing immigrants taking their jobs] is that authoritarian nationalism is rising in a diverse set of countries. Some are mired in recession; others are booming. Some are consumed by fears of immigration; others are not. But besides their hostility to liberal democracy, the right-wing autocrats taking power across the world share one big thing, which often goes unrecognized in the U.S.: They all want to subordinate women. . . . it’s vital to remember that for most of human history, leaders and their male subjects forged a social contract: 'Men agreed to be ruled by other men in return for all men ruling over women.' . . . Many revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries have used the specter of women’s power to discredit the regime they sought to overthrow. Then, once in power themselves, they have validated their authority by reducing women’s rights. . . . 

Crowds at Bolsonaro rallies chanted that they would feed dog food to feminists. And, like Trump, Bolsonaro has intense support from his country’s growing population of evangelicals, who appreciate his fervent opposition to abortion and gay rights. . . . also featured the ritualized humiliation of powerful women . . . [authoritarian leaders] all link the new political order they seek to create to a more subordinate and traditional role for women. . . . It is no surprise, therefore, that authoritarians often succeed when women—especially feminist women—threaten male dominance of public life in countries where men still reign in private. Compare the United States, the Philippines, Brazil, Hungary, and Poland with the countries of northern Europe, where women’s political power has become more normal."
The more empowered women become, the more right-wing autocrats depict that empowerment as an assault on the natural political order. . . . Over the long term, defeating the new authoritarians requires more than empowering women politically. It requires normalizing their empowerment so autocrats can’t turn women leaders and protesters into symbols of political perversity. And that requires confronting the underlying reason many men—and some women—view women’s political power as unnatural: because it subverts the hierarchy they see in the home. . . . There is a striking correlation between countries where women and men behave more equally in the home and countries where women are more equally represented in government. . . . the new authoritarianism underscores the importance of an old feminist mantra: The personal is political. Foster women’s equality in the home, and you may save democracy itself."

And then there's Doug Ford's Ontario and cutting operational grants to the College of Midwives of Ontario. In a Globe and Mail report, one practitioner said:
“'My concern is there will be an exodus, and we’re already in a situation where prenatal care is extremely difficult for people to get access to; it can be very hard to find an [obstetrician] even, and midwives are turning away clients because there are more people who want midwives than midwives can take. . . . We are running the risk of losing not only an obstetrical and maternity, labour and delivery need, but also the group that often focuses on the most disadvantaged and the most unsupported people in our society,' she added, referring to refugees, immigrants and low-income Canadians.

When I was first pregnant, back in 1993, I used a midwife even though I was single, just starting out my career, and I would have to pay for it myself. Luckily for me, halfway through my pregnancy midwifery was approved for funding under OHIP.

I won't bore you with the miracle of birth stuff, how away from the noise and chaotic feel of a hospital, a very private event can happen in your own bedroom (if the birth is uncomplicated), or that, like the CCAC visits after a surgery, home visits in the days after birth make so much more sense than getting people out of bed to come in for a check up. More important than all that caring about women and their newborns is that home births benefits society. It means one segment of people typically in hospital beds and O.R.s are not. That leaves more beds and O.R.s for other types of patients. How can anyone argue against freeing up hospital beds?!

Charlie Angus posted,
Midwives play a huge role in the health care of women. Across the rural north midwife services has been increasing. I am proud to promote their work in Parliament. I am shocked that Doug Ford wants to shut them down. Who has a problem with midwives? Is this something him and Vic Fedelli cooked up over some drinks at a sports bar in Etobicoke? This is an attack of women's health and families. The man has issues.
And then he shared this bit from 2016:

And an old friend, Christi Johnston, who held my hand during my second birth and was so moved by the experience that she quit her tech job to enrol in midwifery school, explains:
The Ontario government announced this week its decision to cut funding for the College of Midwives of Ontario. This comes after the government's decision to appeal the HRTO September ruling where Ontario midwives were found to have been discriminated against and underpaid since 2005. A group of parents, midwifery consumers, and students have started an effort to encourage the government to revoke this decision.

Here's the link to a petition to support Ontario midwives. We've got over 11,000 names in less than a day. Let's keep this rolling. It's not just for prospective parents, but for anyone who cares about maintaining access to hospital beds, right?!  Oh, and, it's for anyone who might give a fig about the rights of women to choose when and where to bring life into this crazy world. Because if this is where eroding rights for women starts, we have to let Ford know that this is where it all ends.

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