About Midwives for Choice
We respect each woman as a unique individual.
Quality care in reproductive and maternal health extends beyond the prevention of morbidity or mortality.
Human dignity is the ultimate value on which respectful health care depends.
A woman’s fundamental right to choice and safety remains paramount.
Philomena Canning, Midwife
Ciara Considine, Publisher
Róisín Smith, Midwife
Amy Rochford, Midwife
Anne Phelan, Administrator
Code of Conduct for Committee Members
This is the current Code of Conduct for Committee members of Midwives for Choice. The Code details what each individual must commit to in their role as Committee member, and in all areas relating to their interaction with, and on behalf of, Midwives for Choice.
Midwives for Choice asks all its Committee members to sign and return this document, and these signed copies are kept on record electronically.
- As a Committee member of Midwives for Choice, I have a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of the organisation. Abiding by this Code of Conduct for Committee Members, and by the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charity Organisations in Ireland, describes how I will do that. If any of these commitments cause me to come in conflict with my legal obligations then these latter will take precedence.
- I promise to abide by the fundamental values set out in the document entitled ‘Principles of Midwives for Choice’ adopted at the inaugural meeting of the organisation on 30 January 2016;
- I commit to apply the same ethical standards to every person and situation.
- Everything the Committee of Midwives for Choice does will be able to stand the test of scrutiny by its members, beneficiaries, stakeholders, members of the public, the media, and the regulatory authorities.
Integrity and Honesty
- Integrity and honesty will be the hallmarks of all conduct within Midwives for Choice, particularly when dealing with colleagues (committee and members) and external individuals and agencies.
- Midwives for Choice will strive to promote an atmosphere of openness throughout the organisation in order to promote the confidence of colleagues (committee, members, and staff if applicable), members of the public, beneficiaries and regulators, and also to promote strategic and operational effectiveness.
- I will support Midwives for Choice’s adoption of, and compliance with, the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Irelands and its associated implementation actions.
Law, mission, policies
- In my role as Committee member I will not break the law or act against any regulation in force;
- I will support the mission of Midwives for Choice and actively promote it;
- I will abide by all policies adopted by Midwives for Choice;
- I will seek to maintain and promote integrity, good governance, effectiveness and efficiency in the interest of delivering the Mission Statement of Midwives for Choice.
Conflicts of Interest
- I will always act in the best interests of Midwives for Choice;
- I will do my work in accordance with the policy of Midwives for Choice on Conflict of Interest and Loyalty, and declare any conflict of interest or any such circumstance as may be viewed by others as conflicting as soon as it arises;
- I will submit to the judgment of the Committee and do as it requires regarding potential conflicts of interest.
Person to Person
- I will act in regard of the policies of Midwives for Choice in my relationships with fellow Committee members, staff as the case may be, members, volunteers, beneficiaries or anyone I come into contact within my role as Committee member.
Guardian of the reputation of Midwives for Choice
- As a Committee member I uphold my duty not to do anything that may damage the reputation of Midwives for Choice;
- I will not advise the media or any public forum without the prior knowledge and approval of the Communications Officer;
- When I am asked to represent Midwives for Choice, any comments I make will reflect current policies even if I do not agree with them;
- When speaking as a private citizen I will aim to act as champion by upholding the work and reputation of Midwives for Choice and those who work and volunteer for it;
- I will respect organisational, committee and individual confidentiality;
- I will take an active interest in the public image of Midwives for Choice.
- I will not personally gain from my role as a Committee member nor will I permit others to do so as a result of my actions or negligence;
- I will document expenses and seek reimbursement according to agreed procedure;
- I will not accept gifts or hospitality without the consent of the Chair;
- I will use the organisational and financial resources of Midwives of Choice responsibly, when authorised in accordance with procedure.
At Committee level
- I will embody the principles of good governance in all my actions and live up to the trust placed in me by Midwives for Choice;
- I will abide by the Committee Handbook of Midwives for Choice;
- I will commit to attend all Committee meetings, and in the event of unavoidable inability to attend, will observe the Committee Attendance policy;
- I will strive to be familiar with all agenda items sent to me in good time and be prepared to contribute my opinions during meetings;
- I will honour the authority of the Chair;
- I will maintain a respectful attitude to the opinions of others;
- I understand that decisions will ideally be made by consensus, but may be by vote. I will consider any majority vote as a corporate decision, and will accept and support it;
- I will uphold my duty to maintain the confidentiality of committee meetings unless authorised to speak on matters outside Committee meetings.
- I commit to supporting the compliance of Midwives for Choice with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations;
- I will participate in appropriate induction, training and development of Committee activities;
- I will support the Chair in her/his leadership role including in the development of an ethical culture in line with the values of Midwives for Choice.
Leaving the Committee
- I understand that any substantial breach of this Code of Conduct may result in my removal from the Committee;
- Should I wish to resign I will inform the Chair in writing, stating my reasons for resigning from the Committee;
- I will participate in an exit interview if requested.
Vision, Mission, and Principles
Midwives for Choice envisages an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives and have full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period,
Our mission is to uphold the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth. Midwives for Choice, its members, affiliates and supporters:
- Promote and protect individual human rights to dignity, autonomy and self-determination in reproductive, maternal and newborn health care, including sexual health, relationships and sexuality.
- Promote and defend the right of all women and girls to decide freely the number and spacing of their children, if any.
- Are committed to working in alliance with all those who share our aims, and in co-operation with interested government and non-governmental bodies.
- Are committed to obtaining equal rights for women and girls, and to their empowerment in obtaining full participation in, and benefit from, social, political and economic development for their sustainable health and safety.
Principles and Values
Respect for human dignity
Human dignity is the ultimate value on which respectful health care depends. Midwives for Choice is committed to the fundamental principles of respectful care and human rights that instate women as the central agent in reproductive and maternal health care. We respect each woman as a unique individual and make every valid and reasonable effort to protect the life and health of pregnant women and their unborn babies. We uphold the right of all women and girls to be equally respected and recognise their right not to be subjected to degrading treatment or discrimination on grounds of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, disability (physical, mental or intellectual) or membership of the Traveller community.
Respect for autonomy and self-determination
Midwives for Choice recognises each woman’s right to self-determination as a basic human right, and we believe that respect for the woman’s informed decision-making, the choices she makes, her preferences and priorities, beliefs and values, and her perception of what it means for her to thrive as a human being, is central to protecting her right to autonomy and self-determination.
We make the assumption that all adults have capacity, except in exceptional circumstances, to make healthcare decisions, and recognise capacity as the ability to understand, deliberate and communicate a choice in relation to a particular healthcare decision at a particular time. We never presume a woman’s consent and believe it is a violation of a woman’s basic human rights to treat her without her consent. The effective communication of evidence-based information and advice in an understandable way, without prejudicing the decision-making of the woman, is the key to protecting and promoting her dignity and autonomy.
Midwives for Choice believes that the right to dignity, autonomy and self-determination demands the recognition that the woman’s moral authority is not superseded by her ability to create life and that her agency over her body is not compromised or denied through pregnancy or childbirth. We contend that the eighth amendment of the Irish Constitution is untenable with the basic human right to freedom and justice and that its repeal is a necessary first step to reinstate the women of Ireland as the central agent in their own reproductive and maternal health care. We respect conscientious objection based on religious or moral beliefs relevant to our professional practice; however, we assert that a woman’s fundamental right to choice and safety remains paramount, promoted and protected by timely, appropriate and accessible referral or by care provision in an emergency where there is a risk to her health or life.
Safety in reproductive and maternal health care
Midwives for Choice upholds the definition of health by the World Health Organisation, unchanged since 1946, as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Thorough evidence-based care is the minimum requirement of our reproductive and maternal health services. We acknowledge and celebrate scientific medical expertise and technology, and our collaborative and complimentary role in interdisciplinary care provision in sickness and disease for safe reproductive and maternal health care. We recognise and defer to the expertise of the associated medical professions in the context of disease while asserting our own status as autonomous experts in protecting the normality of pregnancy and birth for the vast majority of women.
Quality care in reproductive and maternal health extends beyond the prevention of morbidity or mortality to encompass women’s experience of how they are treated by care providers; their attitudes and behaviour, the empathy and kindness shown by them, their emotional support and the effectiveness of their communication. The interpersonal experiences of women, as a core measure of quality in reproductive and maternal health care, points not only to care provider interpersonal skills but to the structural drivers that support and promote respectful care. These include healthy working conditions, adequate staffing levels, standards of health care facilities, continuity of carer that enables the development of trusting relationships, and the legal, political and systematic provision to protect women’s rights to dignity and self-determination for the best possible outcomes of service provision.
Midwives for Choice believes in the values of honesty, open disclosure and redress in reproductive and maternal health care. We acknowledge the damage wrought upon women, girls and families by our maternity system. We stand in solidarity with those denied their basic human rights through lack of provision for access to safe abortion, subjection to symphysiotomy, unnecessary hysterectomy, obstetric intervention without basis in scientific evidence, and with families left tragically bereft by maternal and/or infant death through medical misadventure. We also ally ourselves with those who have suffered traumatising or disrespectful care. We vow to listen to their voices and to advocate on their behalf, allying ourselves with statutory and voluntary agencies, nationally and internationally, whose values and aims accord with our own.
Statement of Compliance with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charity Organisations in Ireland
The Governance Code
We, the Committee of Midwives for Choice, wish to state that we have completed the process as set out for a Type A organisation and now comply with the principles and practices of the Governance Code for a three-year period from 30 November 2016 when our Committee certified our compliance. We commit to:
Principle 1. Leading our organisation.
We do this by: agreeing and reviewing our vision, purpose and values to make sure they remain relevant; developing, resourcing, monitoring and evaluating our plan to make sure that our organisation achieves its stated purpose; and managing, supporting and holding to account our staff, volunteers and all who act on behalf of the organisation.
Principle 2. Exercising control over our organisation.
We do this by: identifying and complying with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements; making sure there are appropriate internal financial and management controls; and identifying major risks for our organisation and deciding ways of managing the risks.
Principle 3. Being transparent and accountable.
We do this by: identifying those who have a legitimate interest in the work of our organisation (stakeholders) and making sure there is regular and effective communication with them about our organisation; responding to stakeholders’ questions or views about the work of our organisation and how we run it; and encouraging and enabling the engagement of those who benefit from our organisation in the planning and decision-making of our organisation.
Principle 4. Working effectively.
We do this by: making sure that our governing body (committee), its individual members, and where relevant, sub-committee members, staff and volunteers, understand their role, legal duties and delegated responsibility for decision-making; making sure that as a board, we exercise our collective responsibility through board meetings that are efficient and effective; and making sure that there is suitable board recruitment, development and retirement processes in place.
Principle 5. Behaving with integrity.
We do this by: being honest, fair and independent; understanding, declaring and managing conflicts of interest and conflicts of loyalties; and protecting and promoting our organisation’s reputation.
Geographic area of operation: The island of Ireland
Nature of work/services: Promoting the highest attainable level of health by women and girls before, during and after childbirth by advocating for the respect, protection and fulfilment of their human rights to dignity, autonomy, self-determination, bodily integrity and privacy.
Our commitment: We commit to reviewing our organisational practice against the recommended actions for each principle every year.
Feedback: We welcome your feedback on our compliance. Please write to:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By post: Ciara Considine, Communications Officer, Midwives for Choice, 23 St Albans Park, DO4 C4V2, Ireland
See our Feedback and Complaints Procedure above.
Find out more about the Governance Code here: http://www.governancecode.ie/
Please click here to view our Signed Commitment to Governance Code
Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising
Midwives for Choice is fully committed to achieving the standards set by the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising.
The Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising exists to:
- Improve fundraising practice
- Promote high levels of accountability and transparency by organisations fundraising from the public
- Provide clarity and assurances to donors and prospective donors about the organisations they support.
We, Midwives for Choice, have considered the Statement and believe we meet the standards it sets out. Where we have not complied with the Statement we have provided an explanation. A report of the fundraising activities of Midwives for Choice is available in our most recent Annual Report which can be found here.
We welcome your feedback on our performance.
By email: email@example.com
By post: Ciara Considine, Communications Officer, Midwives for Choice, 23 St Albans Park, DO4 C4V2, Ireland
See our Feedback and Complaints Procedure here (link).
As a charity seeking donations from the public Midwives for Choice pledge to treat all our donors with respect, honesty and openness. We commit to being accountable and transparent so that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in Midwives for Choice.
We promise we will effectively apply your gifts to us for their intended purposes. We commit that you, our donors and prospective donors, will:
- Be informed of our mission, and of the way our organisation intends to use donated resources.
- Be informed of the identity of those serving on our governing body (our Committee), and of the commitment of our Committee to exercise prudent judgement in its stewardship responsibilities.
- Have access to the most recent financial statements produced by Midwives for Choice.
- Be assured your gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
- Receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.
- Be assured that information about your donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
- Expect that all relationships with individuals representing Midwives for Choice will be dealt with professionally.
- Be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers or employees of Midwives for Choice, or hired third party agents.
- Have easily available the agreed procedures for making and responding to complaints.
- Have the opportunity for your name to be deleted from mailing lists and to be informed if Midwives for Choice intends to share the mailing lists with third parties.
- Receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers to questions you might have about Midwives for Choice.
Midwives for Choice is open about whether those seeking donations on our behalf are volunteers, employees of the organisation or are third party agents. Anyone fundraising on behalf of Midwives for Choice must ensure that prospective donors are aware of their status, i.e. volunteers, employees or third party agents.
Images and Messages
Midwives for Choice is a signatory of the Dochas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages. By signing the Code we adhere to principles of good practice in the design and implementation of our public communication strategy. These principles inform our decision-making about which images and messages to choose while maintaining full respect for human dignity.
The principles we apply are:
Choices of images and messages are based on the paramount principles of respect for the dignity of the people concerned and a belief in the equality of all people. Midwives for Choice seeks to choose images and related messages based on our values of respect and equality, and to truthfully represent any image or depicted situation both in its immediate and in its wider context.
Midwives for Choice seeks to avoid images and messages that potentially stereotype, sensationalise or discriminate against people, situations or places. We use images, messages and case studies with the participation and permission of the subjects (or the subjects’ parents / guardian).
Midwives for Choice seeks to ensure that, where possible, those whose situation is being represented have the opportunity to communicate their stories themselves.
Midwives for Choice seeks, where possible, to establish and record whether the subjects wish to be named or identifiable, and to always act accordingly.
Midwives for Choice seeks to ensure that the visual images chosen to represent a fundraising project or campaign are consistent with the other messages about the project.
Midwives for Choice seeks to present all promotional material as clearly and accessibly as possible, following appropriate best practice guidelines.
All fundraisers on behalf of Midwives for Choice shall be familiar with the standards and guidelines of the Advertising Standards Authority which stipulates that all communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
Feedback on Images and Messages
Your comments and feedback on all of our communications (website, brochures, flyers, adverts etc.) are greatly appreciated because only you can tell us how we come across and how you feel about the people and issues we portray. Please get in touch with us:
- if you feel like some of the images or messages we use in our communications misrepresent the issues and people we strive to portray
- if you feel like an image or artwork we use is breaking the Code’s principles
- if you’re unhappy with the a particular picture, video, article etc.
- if you have ideas on how to improve the existing coverage of a topic
- if you like our communications materials
- if there is a specific photo, article, brochure, ad etc that you thought was particularly effective or stood out
- if there is any other feedback you would like to share with us
Please send an email with your feedback and comments to our Code Champion, Ciara Considine, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dóchas has introduced a cross-sector feedback mechanism that you can make use of, should you not be satisfied with how we handle your comments and feedback. You may contact Dóchas here.
Communication, Feedback, and Complaints
Our Commitment to You
Midwives for Choice is committed to ensuring that all our communications and dealings with our members, the general public, our supporters, donors and all who engage with us are of the highest possible standard. We listen and respond to the views of others so that we can continue to improve. Midwives for Choice welcomes both positive and negative feedback, and aims to ensure that:
- it is as easy as possible to make a complaint, where the need arises;
- we treat as a complaint any clear expression of dissatisfaction with our operations which calls for a response;
- we treat every complaint seriously, whether made by telephone, letter, email or in person;
- we deal with any complaint quickly and politely;
- we respond accordingly, for example, with an explanation or apology where we have got things wrong, and with information on any action taken
- we learn from complaints, use them to improve, and monitor them at Committee level.
What to do if you wish to provide feedback or make a complaint?
If you wish to provide feedback or make a complaint about any aspect of our work, you can contact our Communications Officer who will record and make available all feedback and complaints for review by the Committee. Please give us as much information as possible and let us know how you would like us to respond to you, providing relevant contact details.
By email: email@example.com
By post: Communications Officer, Midwives for Choice, 23 St Albans Park, DO4 C4V2, Ireland
What happens next?
If you complain in writing by email or post, we will always acknowledge your complaint within 7 days, and do everything we can to resolve it within 21 days. If this is not possible, we will explain why and provide a new deadline.
All complaints will be logged in our Complaints Register and tracked until they are resolved. The Complaints Register is reviewed by our Committee annually, and is available to be externally audited or examined.
What if the complaint is not resolved?
If you are not happy with our response, you may get in touch again by writing to our Chairperson who will ensure that your appeal is considered at Committee level and will respond within two weeks of this consideration by the Committee.
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By post: Chairperson, Midwives for Choice, 23 St Albans Park, DO4 C4V2, Ireland
By telephone: +353 (0)87 2900017
If you complain in person or over the phone, we will try to resolve the issue there and then. Where required, internal action is taken to address any issues identified as a result of your feedback or the complaint you make. We will do everything we can to put things right and will review our procedures where necessary to stop problems happening again.
Ideally, in the first instance, you should address your feedback or complaint to Midwives for Choice as outlined above. You may, however, at any stage make your complaint in writing to the Charities Regulator who oversees the compliance of charities with the Charities Act.
By email: email@example.com
By post: Concerns About Charities, The Charities Regulator, Waterloo Exchange, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4
By telephone: Concerns phone line 01 633 1550
By website: www.charitiesregulatoryauthority.ie
This feedback and complaints procedure does not apply to the staff, volunteers or agents of Midwives for Choice for whom a separate policy applies.
Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults
This statement relates to Midwives for Choice privacy practices in connection with its website. Midwives for Choice is not responsible for the content or privacy practices of other websites that are/may be linked to this site. Any external links to other websites are clearly identifiable as such.
Midwives for Choice fully respects your right to privacy, and will not collect any personal data about you through this website that you do not give voluntarily. Any personal data that you volunteer to Midwives for Choice will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality.
Collection and Use of Personal Information
Midwives for Choice does not collect any personal data about you on this website, apart from information which you volunteer (for example by e-mailing us, by using our online membership form, or subscribing to our mailing list). Any information which you provide in this way is not made available to any third parties, and is used by Midwives for Choice only for the purpose for which you provided it.
Collection and Use of Technical Information
Technical details in connection with visits to this website are logged for statistical purposes. No information is collected that could be used by us to identify website visitors. Midwives for Choice will make no attempt to identify individual visitors, or to associate the technical details with any individual.
Right of Access
You have a right to be given a copy of your personal data retained by us within 40 calendar days of receipt of such request. An Access Request should be made in writing, accompanied by identification and fee of €6.35. Please write by email to mfc@midwivesforchoice, or by post to:
Data Protection Officer
Midwives for Choice
23 St Albans Park
Right of rectification or erasure
You have a right to have your personal data corrected, if inaccurate, or erased if we do not have a legitimate reason for retaining the data, within 40 calendar days of receipt of such request. Requests for rectification or erasure should be made in writing, as per Right of Access.
How to contact us:
If you require further information regarding our Privacy Statement, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at: Midwives for Choice, 23 St Albans Park, DO4 C4V2, Ireland.