“Freedom For Birth” film addresses childbirth decisions
Along with thousands of venues in more than 50 countries, The Hide House and Mount Mary College are set to premiere "Freedom For Birth" Thursday night.
Freedom For Birth, a new documentary detailing the violation of women’s rights during childbirth, premieres at 7 p.m. this Thursday with 1,000 simultaneous screenings in more than 50 countries, including at the Hide House in Bay View and at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee.
“Pregnant women see their doctor, expecting that doctor to have their best interest at heart,” said Stefanie Melo, owner of Lagom Therapeutic Massage and sponsor of the Bay View screening. “But there are competing interests that affect their maternity care and many women have no idea.”
Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford are a filmmaking couple who have set up a cross-media global film project called One World Birth to provide educational videos featuring the world’s leading birth experts. Freedom For Birth is Harman and Wakeford’s third documentary film about birth. They were inspired to make films about following their own difficult birth of their daughter four years ago. A cascade of interventions in their birth led to an emergency caesarean section.
Freedom For Birth follows the story of Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb, imprisoned for assisting women that have chosen to give birth at home, and Anna Ternovsky, a pregnant Hungarian mother who takes her fight for the right to decide when and where she gives birth to the European Court of Human Rights.
The film also features interviews with several leading birth experts and Human Right lawyers all calling for radical change to the world’s maternity systems. Women can make educated decisions about their bodies and their births rather than, as the film says, “having unnecessary pharmaceutical and surgical interventions [imposed] on them for reasons of finance and convenience.”
Kait Moon, a local advocate who recently organized Milwaukee’s “Rally for Change” to promote informed decisions in maternity care, believes that “Freedom for Birth” can help spark a Mother’s Revolution.
“Rights are being abused everywhere,” said licensed midwife Jan Wolfenberg, a member of the CARE Network that is hosting the Mount Mary screening. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that all of the medical interventions equal a better, safer birth even though the data doesn’t support that.”
Melo agrees. “I’d like to make women mad enough to say ‘this is enough’ and realize that this is happening right here in the U.S.,” she said. “Things have to change.”
The Bay View screening will begin at 7 p.m. at The Hide House, 2625 S. Greeley St. in the Artist’s Shelter space, building 9. The screening is free and there will be a discussion period after the film. The Mount Mary screening will begin at 7 p.m. in Helfaer Hall (within Caroline Hall), 2900 N. Menomonee RIver Pkwy., and will be followed by a discussion period and Q&A panel with local birth experts.
Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door. More information is available at the CARE Network website.