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Support choice in birth in Lithuania drop charges against Jurgita Svediene

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PLEASE SIGN, and Support the Freedom Of Childbirth Choice And Possibility For Women To Give A Dignified Birth In A Safe And Relaxed Home Environment In Lithuania. Join this call and support the traditional midwife Jurgita Svediene during the ongoing trial.

In 2010, in the case of Ternovzky v. Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that women have a human right to choose the circumstances of childbirth, including the choice to give birth at home with the support of a doctor or a midwife.

Lithuania is in dramatic violation of this fundamental human right. Not only has the Lithuanian government failed to regulate and integrate out-of-hospital birth, but they have subjected home birth families, and the professionals who support them to on-going persecution. The leader of a consumer organization advocating for the legalization of home birth had her home raided by the police, and her family’s personal possessions confiscated for several years. A filmmaker who made a documentary about home birth had her home raided as well. Around 400 home birth families were subject to criminal investigations, interrogated about the intimate details of their personal lives.

During this time, the individual on whom the State has focused its persecution is Lithuania’s leading home birth midwife, the one professional who has supported out-of-hospital birth since the 1980s, Jurga Svediene. She is a traditional midwife, a massage and art therapist with a Master’s in Biochemistry, Bachelor's in Physiotherapy and according to the media, she has assisted over a thousand normal and water births at home and accompanied women to the hospitals deserving the deep love and appreciation from the communities she has served.

Jurgita’s home was raided twice in the early hours of the morning, and the police seized not only the family’s personal possessions, but Jurgita’s husband’s business documents and computers, causing him to lose his business. During the five years of prosecution she was alleged with cult-leadership, placenta-eating, and selling babies abroad. Though the State had dropped these allegations Jurgita is going through criminal trial since September 7, 2016 till October 25 on the charge of “intentional and long-lasting pursuit of prohibited activities.” The prohibited activities are supporting Lithuanian women’s human rights by providing healthcare support when they give birth outside the hospital.

Along with her, charged along similar lines as well as for assorted procedural infractions is Dalia Jakaite, a paediatrician, who had been registering the babies who had been born at home – her home has been raided as well, and she has also endured a prolonged period of interrogation.

The violation of women’s human right to choose the circumstances of childbirth does not make birth safer. When the state withdraws healthcare support for women and families’ private, reproductive healthcare choices, the resulting failure of transparency and continuity of care leads to preventable death in predictable ways. There are healthcare systems in the world that are able to accommodate this choice as safely as hospital birth.

Five years of prosecution and surveillance of ordinary Lithuanian families who chose to give birth at home had not led to any legislative reforms nor a closer dialogue between the people and the Lithuanian government.

There is now a growing belief that the right resolution in the court would help to create the conditions for further reforms of maternity care in Lithuania and that Lithuania might become a positive example in child-bearing field to other countries in Eastern Europe. It is the right time for Lithuanian Republic to become a birth-friendly country with a democratic, western and respectful approach to civil liberties.

We need your votes to create the momentum for positive change, and to urge the Lithuanian government to start working towards the safer delivery of different birth choices!           

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