It is time to stand up with our Arizona Midwives again. A law revision by the Arizona Department of Health Services (“ADHS”) that became effective in July of 2013 opened up the possibility for some Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) clients to access homebirths legally in Arizona. Along with the access to homebirth care for some families, some other unwelcome mandates were added into the Midwifery Rules and Regulations.
HERE is a link to the current regulations. Under these regulations, I would have been placing our midwife in direct conflict with her beliefs and the expectations of the state. Here is why:
Midwives believe in watchful waiting: watch the mother, monitor the baby, and only “do” when the situation warrants more of whatever needs to be done to ensure a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.
As a patient, it is my right to decline someone’s hand penetrating my body when I am in the throes of labor. In the hospital setting, it is virtually impossible to assert this right. After discussing past sexual abuse with my midwife, and how I experienced vaginal exams as the most painful part of labor, she agreed that we didn’t need to do any during my birth if everything remained healthy and low-risk.
I did not need vaginal exams to tell me that my labor was progressing. I could tell that things were moving along by the way contractions got steadily stronger, longer, and more frequent. I could tell as my left-brain turned off and I entered “laborland”, a place of intuition and sensation.
Our midwife and her team of students watched, waited, and monitored throughout the labor. All my vitals remained steady throughout the entire time. Our Sweet Pea was amazing every time she was monitored. So they kept watching, waiting, and monitoring.
For once, I had a birth with no hands in my vagina!! It was amazing!! And the baby came out!!! Under today’s regulations, that birth would be asking my midwife to choose between her conscience and the state.
It seems like such a simple request: birth without vaginal exams. Birth without the invasion of my body. Yet the state of Arizona has decided it knows better and it is denying my right to a peaceful, non-violent birth.
The craziest part of the story? The ADHS has been aware that their rules and the enforcement of said rules place midwives between their clients and the law *for years*. And they still haven’t done anything about it. You can read the court proceedings HERE (see Page 4, Section 12) where an ADHS representative admits this in court. In spite of the judge recommending that the ADHS address these conflicts, they still haven’t done anything about it. Read the midwife’s account of these proceedings HERE.
Now it’s time. I am standing up with our midwives and saying NO THANK YOU to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Will you join us? The information for the rally can be found at this social media event RSVP HERE
(IF you cannot attend in person, join the virtual rally group here. Social media links for elected officials and ADHS will be posted + hashtags at 9:00 am on 11/05/15. Check back into the virtual event page from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm for more updates and posting requests from the organizers. Thank you in advance for joining the virtual rally!)
Information from the AAM event page:
“Arizona Association of Midwives (AAM), with the support of community members and everyday families of Arizona will rally in front of the Arizona Department of Health Services, at 11am Thursday, November 5, 2015 to demand that the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), along with the State of Arizona elected officials, including Governor Ducey, stop the bureaucratic persecution of, and instead, publicly support the Midwives of Arizona in providing safe preconception, prenatal, labor and birth, and postpartum care to the families of Arizona. The rally will coincide with a special announcement by AAM.
“Arizona midwives want to provide safe and ethical, evidence-based care to the growing families in our state. ADHS has said they just want compliance with their rules. ADHS relies on said rules to coerce and force people into mandatory medical care, mandatory testing, and mandatory vaginal exams, mandatory hospital transports for non-emergent or contained emergency situations.
“IF a midwifery client declines any of these, they are no longer legally allowed to be cared for by an Arizona Licensed Midwife. Not in that moment and not for the rest of their pregnancy or postpartum. Midwives have protecting their clients from these mandates and the response from ADHS has been to threaten, harass and persecute.
“Midwives are being persecuted and harassed for providing safe, evidenced-based
“ADHS current interpretation and enforcement of midwifery rules is in direct conflict with the midwifery model of respecting clients rights to low intervention practices and informed choice.
“This is shameful and illegal!
“AZDHS and the State of Arizona need to stop persecuting midwives and need to start embracing them as a means to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the state by way of providing thorough and professional maternity care at home and outside of the hospital.
“The Arizona Association of Midwives is taking action on behalf of all growing families in the state to ensure that their healing hands are not tied with red tape when it comes time to welcome new life into this world.
Please join us at the rally, come hear the announcement, stay informed!”