Hello Good People!
As many of you already know, I am expecting my second child this month (woooo)! It is extremely timely, then, that the fight to save Home Birth in New York City is currently gaining a great deal of momentum, with a current crisis in access to care that has been brought on by the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital. As a woman who believes very deeply in the power of natural birth - as a woman who has experienced natural birth - and is currently planning a Home Birth, this issue is very close to my heart. I ask that you read about it and take action by signing the petition I link to below.
Also up for grabs in my newsletter this month - you can donate your new, unused, old, or broken bike to the Cypress Hills Community Center, and spread the super fit and environmentally friendly practice of biking to the next generation of young people. You can also read a fantastic and challenging essay on alternatives to policing by my girl Caroline Loomis.
I am excited to announce that I have an article being published in the May issue of Bonfire, the monthly e-publication of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change. Check out www.iifac.org
to subscribe and read my article all about Restating for Facilitators.
Since I will be giving birth this month, I will not be sending a newsletter in June (unless I am feeling really ambitious), but expect to hear from me in July!
In this edition of Iambrown:
- Save Homebirth in New York City!!
- Donate a Bike to the Cypress Hills Community Center
- Finding Ways to Not Call the Police
-----Save Home Birth in New York City!!
If you receive my newsletter, chances are that you and I agree on some fairly basic progressive ideas, including the idea that each human being should have the right and every opportunity to determine for him or her self what kind of health care he or she would like to have. What many people around the country are not aware of is how this fundamental right applies to birth. It may seem to be straightforward that if a woman can choose who her practitioner is, then she can quite as easily choose where she would like to give birth and what the nature of that environment should be.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Few expectant mothers are offered the option to give birth in any setting except for a hospital, and for those of us who have chosen to give birth outside of hospitals (a choice that is made for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to avoid the use of unnecessary interventions, such as drugs and major surgery, that are routinely used in hospitals in order to "manage" the birth experience), the option to give birth at home is under serious threat.
In New York State, Home Birth Midwives are beholden to a law that requires them to have a Written Practice Agreement (WPA) with an Obstetrician. This means that in order to practice "legally" every Home Birth Midwife must have an Obstetrician who is willing to sign a document that says he or she is the formal backup physician, should the midwife need to transfer her patient from home to hospital. In and of itself, this law would not be a problem, if it were not for the fact that there are currently no Obstetricians in the whole of New York City willing to sign a WPA with a Home Birth Midwife. St. Vincent's Hospital was the home of the only obstetrics practice in New York City supportive of a woman's right to give birth at home; with its recent closure, Home Birth Midwives are now forced to practice illegally.
Choices in Childbirth has come up with a number of ways that you can help to support Home Birth Midwives in maintaining their ability to practice legally in New York City.
You can sign the petition supporting the Midwifery Modernization Act which will remove the WPA from the midwifery law, effectively removing this barrier to accessing midwifery care. (See NYSALM's fact sheet about what the Midwifery Modernization Act Means for You).
Call 311; or Wendy Saunders, Executive Deputy Commissioner for the NY State Department of Health, appointed by Governor Paterson at 518-474-8390; or Larry Mokhiber, the Secretary of the Board of Midwifery at 518-474-3817, extension 130.
"With the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital, half of the licensed, highly trained home birth midwives serving NYC have lost their
Written Practice Agreement (WPA). St Vincent's was the only Hospital in the city supportive of a woman's right to choose a home birth and willing to sign a WPA. In the weeks since it's announced closure, these midwives have reached out to hospitals and obstetricians all across the city looking for support, with no success. Please help us to save the homebirth option in New York."
You can also email the Governor at http://www.state.ny.us/governor/contact/GovernorContactForm.php
Thanks for any support you can give. And please spread the word!
Donate a Bike to the Cypress Hills Community Center
The Cypress Hills Community Center, a newly re-opened multi-use center serving the residents of the Cypress Hills NYCHA Community in East New York, is looking for donated bicycles for elementary and middle-school youth. These bicycles will be used in our "Junior Mechanics" program, where young people are taught to ride, use, and maintain bicycles over the course of the summer. Broken bicycles are welcome.
The Bicycles can be dropped off at the Cypress Hills Community Center (475 Fountain Ave, Brooklyn NY) between the hours of 11-8 Monday-Friday or 12-5 on Saturdays. If you can't get your donated bike to the Community Center, we can make arrangments to pick it up. Contact Samuel Conway at email@example.com for more information.
Feeling for the Edge of Your Imagination: Finding Ways to Not Call the Police
My friend Caroline Loomis wrote a really beautiful and on point piece in which she challenges the reader to consider what it means to call the police when we are experiencing or have experienced harm of some kind, what it means to participate in a legal system that imprisons people as opposed to helping them to heal, and what it would look like if more of us stopped calling the police and started creating community-based alternatives for addressing harm and holding each other accountable. It is a deeply challenging essay, and even includes a set of exercises the reader can engage in to think through alternatives. I highly recommend it, and you can find the article posted in full here: