Book Review: Why Human Rights In Childbirth Matter, by Rebecca Schiller
This is a small book that should have a massive impact. Doula and human rights campaigner Rebecca Schiller is a great advocate for this important subject, bringing to it eloquence, experience, and a deep understanding of the issues faced by women in childbirth. She is almost uniquely positioned to present the case for human rights in childbirth.
The book is presented in two sections, the smaller second section being a clear and useful guide to women’s rights in birth, with a FAQ approach and a comprehensive set of information.
The bulk of the book examines the matter in more detail, starting with an exploration of the context in which women give birth, both in developed and developing parts of the world. She provides a very good explanation of the Human Rights Act and how it applies to birth, with several compelling examples. This is the first book where I have ever read every one of the real life quotations.
I found that the chapter on Feminisms of Birth particularly resonated. Schiller’s discussion of the political dilemma of campaigning to improve women’s experience, without polarising people into different camps, was enlightening and helpful. She concludes, of course, that the ultimate aim must be respectful, compassionate and individualised care based on the best available evidence, but trusting every woman to make decisions about what happens to her own body.
If you have ever pondered the real meaning of consent, or witnessed a non-consented procedure, or been asked to consent to something you did not fully understand, this book will be meaningful to you. Absolutely everyone involved in birth needs to be aware of the contents of this book, above all the women heading into the system, whatever that system is in their part of the world. Human rights in childbirth really do matter, and Rebecca Schiller is a hero in her tireless advocacy.
[Disclaimer: The publisher Pinter & Martin sent me a free review copy of Human Rights In Childbirth. You can get a copy here, with 10% discount using the code SPROGCAST at the checkout.]