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PRESS RELEASE
Alliance Fran­coph­o­ne pour l’Ac­couche­ment Respec­té (AFAR) <https://afar.info> is a French-Lan­guage net­work of cit­i­zens and non-prof­it soci­eties involved in the sup­port of, and infor­ma­tion about, gen­tle child­birth and care of the new­born. The soci­ety has been reg­is­tered in May 2003. AFAR does not advo­cate spe­cif­ic choic­es with respect to places of birth and its atten­dants, and it is free from any philo­soph­i­cal, reli­gious or polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion. Its role is to share sci­en­tif­ic and legal infor­ma­tion, and active­ly sup­port informed choic­es by all actors of childbirth.

Today, par­ents are allowed less and less free­dom of choice for the places and atten­dants of child­birth. This is due to two major rea­sons: first, the pur­suit of a prof­it-mak­ing pol­i­cy enforced by a secu­ri­ty dis­course devoid of any sci­en­tif­i­cal ground­ing, and the fear of lit­i­ga­tion. The mar­ket­ting of birth, in France, is obvi­ous in the dis­man­tling of small obstet­ri­cal units to the ben­e­fit of “birth fac­to­ries”. Fear of lit­i­ga­tion has pushed pro­fes­sion­al atten­dants to shel­ter behind pro­to­cols impos­ing an increas­ing num­ber of inter­ven­tions, most of which are use­less or detri­men­tal to the nat­ur­al process of birthing. For instance, the cas­cade of iatroge­nous inter­ven­tions often starts with induc­tion of labour for the sake of reduc­ing hos­pi­tal costs thanks to the sched­ul­ing of team­work. This absur­di­ty of the “birth machine” has been put in the right words by Prof. Mali­nas, a gynecologist-obstretician:

“The task of tra­di­tion­al obstet­rics was to mon­i­tor a phys­i­o­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non, being ready to act at every moment. Mod­ern obstet­rics aims at dis­rupt­ing this process in such a way that inter­ven­tions will become vital at the very moment there is avail­able staff. This is much more dif­fi­cult!” (Le Dauphiné Libéré, 8 May 1994)

Though AFAR’s ter­ri­to­ry is French-speak­ing coun­tries, it is bound to work with inter­na­tion­al part­ners on spe­cif­ic actions. Among these will be the shar­ing of its on-line data­base of bib­li­o­graph­ic ref­er­ences. Its oper­a­tion may be demon­strat­ed click­ing the “épi­siotomie” link on the page: <https://afar.info/biblio-liens.htm> [link not checked]
Access to this doc­u­men­tary resource will soon become bilin­gual. AFAR wel­comes well-trained edi­tors will­ing to take part in adding con­tent to its data­base which will remain acces­si­ble to all Inter­net users.

The next inter­na­tion­al action will be AFAR’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Euro­pean Social Forum <http://www.fse-esf.org/> [link not checked] which is due to take place near Paris on 12–15 Novem­ber this year. AFAR is in the process of sub­mit­ting a pro­pos­al for a work­shop on the top­ic of birth rights and free­dom, in which we hope to involve a num­ber of non-prof­it soci­eties in France, plus more in the UK and oth­er neigh­bour­ing countries.

The third action will be SMAR, the world­wide week for respect­ed child­birth (Semaine Mon­di­ale de l’Ac­couche­ment Respec­té) which has been sched­uled on May 3–9, 2004. The top­ic for 2004 will be “Epi­sioto­my, gen­i­tal muti­la­tion”. Our pre­sen­ta­tion page of SMAR on <https://afar.info/smar2004.htm> [link not checked] will short­ly be avail­able in English.

The new phase of birth activism embod­ied in the launch­ing of AFAR has become pos­si­ble thanks to an increas­ing mobil­i­sa­tion of cit­i­zens in France and French-speak­ing coun­tries: more arti­cles in broad-dis­tri­b­u­tion mag­a­zines, more items on the TV and radio, more books… such as the recent one on women and par­en­t’s rights, by Sophie Gamelin and Mar­tine Herzog-Evans:Les droits des mères (1) : La grossesse et l’ac­couche­ment ; Les droits des mères (2) : Les pre­miers mois. Paris : L’Har­mat­tan. <http://perinatalite.chez.tiscali.fr/livre-droit/presentation.htm>[link not checked]

The snow­ball effect of these inter­ven­tions in the mass media is encour­ag­ing at a time the sit­u­a­tion of the French birth pol­i­cy is wors­en­ing in the direc­tion of hyper­me­d­ical­i­sa­tion. It is felt that the ground of action for the AFAR will be the places in which recent laws on informed con­sent and free­dom of choice are still being ignored. AFAR’s ambi­tion is to sup­port the birth options of its mem­bers thanks to the avail­abil­i­ty of sci­en­tif­ic data, legal infor­ma­tion, and tak­ing legal action when­ev­er nec­es­sary. Cur­rent­ly, its law coun­sel­lors are focussing on birth plans, their con­tents and sub­mis­sion pro­ce­dures in the frame­work of con­trac­tu­al links between the care­givers and users of the health system.

Catégories : Vie de l'AFAR

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