FREEDOM FOR BIRTH is an abridged 15 minute version of the full-length documentary about Human Rights violations in childbirth made by British filmmaking couple, Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford as part of their ONE WORLD BIRTH global film project.
FREEDOM FOR BIRTH features academics, doctors, midwives and Human Rights lawyers calling for all women to be afforded real choice as to where and how they give birth and for those choices to be respected by all care providers.
Toni Harman, the film's co-Director, says,“We were inspired to make the film after the difficult birth of our daughter five years ago where a cascade of medical interventions culminated in a caesarean. As parents in the hospital delivery room, we felt shut out of the decision-making process. We felt we weren't offered any real choice. When we started making Freedom For Birth, we discovered that the right to choose the circumstances of where and how a woman gives birth has recently been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights (Ternovszky vs Hungary no. 67545/09 14 December 2010) and yet, women's rights in childbirth are routinely being violated not just in Europe, but in many countries around the world.”
FREEDOM FOR BIRTH highlights how, in some countries today, women who want to have a normal vaginal birth are sometimes forced by judges to have c-sections and some are threatened with having their baby taken away by child welfare services if they refuse to sign the consent form. In some countries, if a woman wants to have a home birth supported by a midwife, those midwives face criminal prosecution. Some midwives like Ágnes Geréb in Hungary have even been imprisoned.
Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the Human Rights in Childbirth conference held at the Hague earlier this year, says,“Too many birth professionals are labouring under the illusion that a woman can be told what to do and that her job is to do what she's told. When a birthing woman doesn't do what she is told, but instead asks for the information necessary to make a decision appropriate for her and her baby, these providers assert that she is suddenly in conflict with her unborn child and use this false conflict to justify coercion and force.”
The full-length (58 minute) FREEDOM FOR BIRTH documentary launched on 20th September with over 1,000 simultaneous screenings held in 50 countries in 17 different languages including screenings hosted by the Royal College of Midwives in London, the Museum of Motherhood in New York and Yale University.
Alex Wakeford, the film's other co-Director says,“We estimate that 100,000 people saw the film on the launch day. It prompted many to set up local action groups and create petitions. But what if, through the release of a free short web version of our film, we could take this even further? We want as many people as possible to see the film so that they become aware of their rights in birth. The next step is to connect individuals who feel disenfranchised, who feel passionate about this issue but who feel their voice isn't being heard. What if we could connect all these voices together into one loud powerful voice to help bring about change? Suddenly, this is more than just a campaign, this has the potential to be a global revolution”.
Hermine Hayes-Klein adds,“FREEDOM FOR BIRTH has been embraced around the world as more than a documentary, but as a conversation about the issues of universal and fundamental concern to birthing women everywhere, a conversation that everybody can join. The film has literally gathered individuals into regional groups and regional groups into a global movement”.
The online campaign and video is being launched on the ONE WORLD BIRTH website and on YouTube on Monday 17th December 2012 oneworldbirth.net
“FREEDOM FOR BIRTH” was produced, directed and edited by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, a real-life couple and filmmaking partnership. This is the first of a series of documentaries about key issues in childbirth produced under the banner of ONE WORLD BIRTH. (oneworldbirth.net).
The 58 minute full-length documentary FREEDOM FOR BIRTH is now available on DVD from freedomforbirth.com/.
In December 2010, the European Court of Human Rights issued the first holding of a high Human Rights tribunal addressing the legal authority of birthing women as a Human Rights issue. In Ternovszky v. Hungary, the ECHR addressed the criminal prosecution of midwives in Hungary for supporting out-of-hospital births. (Ternovszky v. Hungary, no. 67545/09, 14 December 2010)
"The notion of a freedom implies some measure of choice as to its exercise. The notion of personal autonomy is a fundamental principle underlying the interpretation of the guarantees of Article 8 [cite omitted]. Therefore the right concerning the decision to become a parent includes the right of choosing the circumstances of becoming a parent. The Court is satisfied that the circumstances of giving birth incontestably form part of one's private life for the purposes of this provision; and the [Hungarian] Government did not contest this issue."