- The European Parliament
Human rights violations in European maternity care.
To draw attention to violations of Human Rights in Childbirth.
- European Parliament
- The European Parliament
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To the European Parliament
We call on the European Parliament to take a critical look at childbirth practices in all its member states.
Women across Europe face diverse maternity care systems, but they also face common problems. The overuse of medical interventions has made it increasingly difficult for women to achieve a physiological and spontaneous labor. Iatrogenic effects of these interventions are a real and frequent problem in countries across Europe.
In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg stated, in the case of Ternovszky versus Hungary, that “the right to respect for private life includes the right to choose the circumstances of birth”. However, many European States have systems of birth care in which women's physical autonomy is routinely violated and their options are rigidly circumscribed.
The right to give birth outside the hospital is critical for all birthing women, whether they choose for hospital or home birth. The respectful treatment of women who do choose hospital birth can only be ensured if they have the option to walk out and deliver under a different model of care, even if they do not exercise that choice. A different dynamic is in place when a health care provider gives a recommendation with the knowledge that the woman can take or leave the advice, than when that provider believes that the woman can legally be forced if she doesn’t comply.
Observational studies of good quality have documented that planned homebirth is as safe as hospital birth for healthy women. Given the trends and protocols of institutional birth, home birth is often the only way that women in many nations can give birth without unneeded surgical and pharmaceutical intervention.
However, many European States do not provide women with an easy access to homebirth services, and in fact many countries makes it incredibly difficult for women to give birth outside of a medical institution.
We urge the European Parliament to take Human Rights in Childbirth as its point of departure for an investigation and discussion of maternity care systems across the European member states.
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