broadcast NEWS FROM A BROAD [BY KARA BULLER] your midwife had to have a written practice agreement (WPA) signed by a supervising M.D. Nationwide, OB/GYNs loathe signing these forms because of fears over liability, so only one hospital in Manhattan, St. Vincent’s, had doctors willing to do it. When that hospital closed its doors in May, however, it left no legal option for women wanting to home-birth. That’s when activists started rallying, and in an impressive show of force, they successfully lobbied to change the law. On July 30, 2010, New York State passed the Midwifery Modernization Act, which removes the requirement for a WPA. Home birth remains a controversial topic, but it’s nice to know that N.Y.C. mamas have the right to choose the kiddie pool once again.
PHONING IT IN Controversial repro-rights hotline goes live in Pakistan
post-earthquake heartache HAITIAN WOMEN STILL FEELING THE AFTERSHOCKS AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, 1.5 million people were left homeless, forcing roughly 15 percent of Haiti’s population into slapdash temporary camps where they remain today. The women living in these abysmal tent villages have since reported that gang rapes
human-rights organization MADRE, one of the groups ﬁling the petition, says that if passed, the document will indeed have teeth because it can be court-enforced in Haiti. Kudos to MADRE and all the other organizations ﬁghting to address this horrifying humanitarian crisis.
Haitian women are organizing night patrols and distributing rape whistles to protect each other. and random beatings are becoming rampant. In response, a coalition of concerned humanitarian groups has ﬁled a petition with the Organization of American States. These activists hope to force the sluggish Haitian government to provide basics like security staff and improved lighting in the camps. But so far, Haitian women have had to resort to grass-roots efforts, such as organizing night patrols and distributing rape whistles to protect each other, while they wait for help to arrive. The good news? A lawyer with the international women’s
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HOME DELIVERY RETURNS TO MANHATTAN And we’re not talking about The New York Times If you want to give birth in a kiddie pool in the living room of your Manhattan apartment while your midwife lights beeswax candles all around you, you can now do it legally again. There was a disturbing threemonth period in N.Y.C. last summer when women seeking to home-birth were forced to go underground. Under former New York State law, in order to deliver at home,
Since colonial times, abortion has been illegal in Pakistan unless the life of the mother is at risk. And an estimated 4,500 Pakistani women die annually from unsafe, illegal abortions. Hoping to change this grim picture, Pakistani feminist groups, along with Dutch women’s-rights group Women on Waves, set up a hotline to provide reproductive-health consultations to the women of Pakistan. The hotline created a stir because it advises the use of Misoprostol, one of two drugs used in the U.S. for nonsurgical abortions. Pakistani doctors are allowed to administer Misoprostol for abortions necessitated by a health threat to the mother and to stop hemorrhaging after birth. So they have this drug readily available, but it is technically illegal to use when a woman wants an abortion for reasons that are not permitted (including rape, incest, fetal impairment, and economic and social concerns). There are also gray areas in the abortion laws that a doctor could use to legally administer the drug, and this is why the hotline encourages callers to seek it out. Named Sahailee, which is Urdu for “female friend,” the hotline has received opposition from conservative doctors and outright threats from religious conservatives. Aww, see? The American South and the Muslim world can see eye to eye on something. They both love to make threats of violence in response to women’s rights.
ILLUSTRATED BY BRITTANY HOLLOWAY-BROWN
issue 67, portis de rossi