Another Support Letter

August 24, 2009

Mr. Michael T. Murray,

I am disappointed to hear about your hospital’s actions against Dr. Stuart Fischbein and his supporting CNMs. I believe it is wrong to punish them for helping women achieve the safe vaginal birth they desire. Those women would have been subject to a major surgery they were opposed to, and proved unnecessary, otherwise.
As an expectant mother, I hope to have freedom of choice, informed consent, and informed refusal during my birth experience. I consider this a basic human right. If I were in need of an obstetrician to safely deliver my breech or VBAC baby, I would hope the opportunity would not be denied for me to have a vaginal birth. I hope I would have the support of the medical community on my side to help me through.
I am not anti-cesarean. I believe there is a time and a place for it, and it has saved many lives. I am thankful to live in a society where such things are readily available to me and my child should the need arise.

However, I also believe in women’s ability to give birth safely, even in less than optimal circumstances. I believe a woman should have the right to review the available data without fear-mongering and make a decision that fits her beliefs and preferences. I also believe that once she makes her choice, it should be supported by the medical system. I believe the medical community is here to serve us, the people.

We are not to be held hostage to a system over our own bodies for monetary or legal concerns. Incidentally, failure to recognize and support my wishes concerning my own body is a more serious offense to me than the fact that some babies die. It is a fact of life that death cannot be thwarted. Heartbreaking as that may be, we cannot control the element of life. What can be controlled is how you treat those in your care. Dignity and respect are called for, even if their choices differ from what yours would be.

That being said, vaginal birth has not been proven more dangerous or life threatening than cesarean section. The statistics demand freedom of choice. VBAC and breech vaginal birth have happened safely and should continue to do so. Obstetricians should be trained to handle these events safely so that women can chose what to do with their own bodies.

I appreciate the efforts of Dr. Stuart Fischbein. He is a hero to me for safely supporting vaginal birth for those who wish for it. I hope you’ll train and hire more people with his character and skill set. Without skilled obstetricians, women who feel strongly about birth and their choices will resort to birthing at home without the immediate back-up and monitoring they should have the right to. Is this not more dangerous than allowing vaginal delivery in the hospital?

I urge you to revise your hospital policies to allow more freedom of choice.