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.
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.