Mary Marsh Reports
Rights of women to choose birthing method
Posted: Feb 26, 2008 11:21 PM EST
BENTONVILLE - A group is spoke out Tuesday night about a hospital policy that they say doesn't allow them to choose how they give birth. The policy doesn't allow women who've had a cesarian section in the past to have a traditional birth afterward.
Hospitals say malpractice insurance companies refuse coverage to facilities who offer traditional births after a cesarian section, called "VBAC births." They say this leaves hospitals liable.
But in a public meeting Tuesday night, The BirthNetwork of Northwest Arkansas spoke out. They say traditional births are safe, and that women have the right to choose them.
Elizabeth Day, co-founder of The BirthNetwork, a family-care organization, says VBAC births, or traditional childbirth after a woman has had a cesarean section, is safe, but say most women don't know that. "They do have the right to refuse surgery, but for the most part women are going to the hospitals, and doctors are telling them, 'I'm sorry, but you just can't have a VBAC."
Charity Nunn was pregnant with her second child when her doctor said she would have to have another C-section. "He said that it was not allowed here: no VBACs in the area, for various reasons."
So, after extensive research, Nunn discovered that there was a movement to allow traditional birth after a C-section, claiming it was, indeed safe.
Day says VBACs are far more safe, than having another C-section. "There are many, many risks associated with C-section, and especially with repeat C-sections."
In light of these facts, Nunn decided to give birth, traditionally, and did so without problems. "When I went into labor, [I] went into a hospital, and refused a C-section...elected to, my options, my right to have a normal birth."
Advocates like Nunn and Day say they want women to know what the real options are, when it comes to giving birth, after a C-section. Nunn says, "Everyone's told it: "it's not allowed; you can't do it. They actually think it's illegal, only to find out -it is possible, just not promoted."
And Day agrees. "They have the power to change this situation, and it really does lie in their hands."
The BirthNetwork hopes to introduce legislation that would keep insurance companies from influencing hospital policies so strongly. 5News spoke with several hospitals in the area, and they agreed that regardless of their stance on the issue, their hands are tied, because of insurance policies.
Washington Regional Hospital and St. Mary's will not do VBAC births, and Northwest Medical Center says they won't do VBAC birthing, unless it's an emergency birth situation.