Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cesarean (C-section) Informational Video from YouTube

U.N. calls out the United States Federal Government in relation to the Occupy Movement

The following is an excerpt from an article from The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund's website:
From Huffington Post:

U.N. Envoy: U.S. Isn't Protecting Occupy Protesters' Rights

WASHINGTON -- The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded -- sometimes violently -- by local authorities.

The link to the peice is, < >

The link to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund's home page is, >

Monday, December 5, 2011

Talking Points - CONNECTIONS and Legal Struggles for Justice: Reproductive Rights - Women Refuses C-Section and Child Taken Away

The issue I wish to discuss in this blog deals with the reproductive and medical rights of a woman in New Jersey.  In general, a pregnant woman had her newborn baby removed from her as a result from her refusal to sign a preapproval document for a C-Section procedure.  The incident took place in 2006 at St. Barnabas hospital in New Jersey.  The child is still away from its mother and the parents are still trying to get their child back. 
The woman in question, known as V.M. was initially accused of child abuse and medical neglect by not signing a pre-consent form for a cesarean surgery.  As a result her baby was taken away from her right after birth.  From what I have read, the doctors were pushing for V.M. to sign a consent form for a cesarean surgery.  It was the medical opinion of the doctors that V.M. should get a cesarean surgery.  V.M. declined to sign the consent form and told the doctors that if there were complications during the birthing that she would then consent to a cesarean surgery.  In response to V.M.’s refusal to sign the form, the doctors asked for a physiological evaluation of V.M.  After finding the patient to be competent and able to make the decision, the medical staff requested a second opinion.  Before the second evaluation could take place, V.M. gave birth to a healthy baby without complication.  Even though the patient was right about not needed a cesarean surgery, they medical staff contacted the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services who then removed the child from the custody of the parents at birth.  The initial reason for taking the baby was that V.M. and her husband had endangered the baby by not signing the consent form and thus they were said to have committed medical neglect and abuse.  To make it clear, this is the initial reason why the child was removed from the custody of the parents.  Using the new reasoning that V.M. has had a past history of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the child has still been kept from the mother. 
My belief is that the initial termination of custody was morally and legally wrong and that it clearly violated the mother’s reproductive rights.  It should be the right of the mother to have a cesarean surgery or not if the health of the fetus is not in clear imminent danger, especially in a hospital (and country) with a known history of over using the procedure. The C-Section rate at St. Barnabas is 49.3% (in 2006) and the national average is about 32%.  The World Health Organization recommends that the rate should not be above 10% to 15%.  We must remember that this is also a serious and dangerous procedure that comes with its own risks.  I also believe that the use of the mother’s psychological past is insufficient reasoning to keep her from her child for so many years.   The first psychological evaluation found the mother competent enough to make informed medical decisions about her body and baby.  If she was found to be competent enough then, then what has changed?  It is unfair, immoral and unethical to use past medical records to take a child away from a mother at birth before conducting a new psychological work-up.  They should have left the child in the mother’s care until it could be confirmed that the mother was psychologically unable  to care for her child.
 I think that Marilyn Frye would argue that the rights of V.M. are being violated and that V.M. was being actively oppressed based on what was discusses in her article, “Oppression”.  One claim by the medical staff was that V.M. was being combative and resistant (among other things).  Frye discusses that oppressed people usually have to act in ways that signals docility.  If they do not then they are seen as being difficult or unpleasant.  I wonder if this is what happened in V.M.’s case.  I wonder if by refusing the doctors’ demand for her to sign the consent forms that V.M. was viewed in a negative manner.  V.M. wasn’t being sensitive or complaint like “a good mother would” and so she was turned into an enemy.  I also wonder if economic/class issues (disused in “People like Us”) or issues of privilege and power difference discusses by Allan Johnson played a role in the actions of the medical staff and the New Jersey DYFS.  In a legal document (which a link will be placed in this blog) it is mentioned that V.M. claims that she received poor treatment and that there were inappropriate comments made by several members of the medical staff related to the color of the skin of her husband (B.G.) and of her baby (J.M.G).  I don’t know what the color of the skin was or what was the color of the skin of the individuals who allegedly made inappropriate comments were, but I cannot help to wonder if there was issues of racial bias or other biases based on social or economic class (that we are not clearly seeing) could have played a role in the decisions of the medical staff and thus the DYFS and courts. 

Hyperlinks – Sexy from the Start: Anticipatory Elements of Second Wave Feminism by Jennifer Scanlon

One of the main issues discussed in Scanlon’s article is the issue of fashion related to second and third wave feminists.  This issue is also related to issues of self-identity and issues of labeling people.  In her piece she talks about third wave attitudes towards reclaiming the idea of feminine as a new and powerful identify for women that is strong, resistant, sexual, raucous, and more.  It is also about reclaiming the word girl so that it is not used as a way to look down at females as weak and passive.  The idea is that women can where almost anything they want and still be able to be looked as feminist, powerful and as individuals to be respected. 
While reading Scanlon’s article I was greatly reminded of one contemporary feminist movement known as the SlutWalk movement.  SlutWalk is a movement dedicated to tackling issues such as rape culture where blaming the victim and finding excuses for attackers is common place.   The catalyst for the movement was when Toronto Police Officer Constable Michael Sanguinetti advised women that they should avoid dressing as sluts in order to help protect them from being targeted for rape and sexual assault.  A related instance of blaming the victim took place recently in Brooklyn, New York when after a string of sexual attacks and attempted rapes police officers were telling women that they should not wear provocative clothes.  According to an article by John Noel from NBC New York, one woman was approached by a police officer and was told, “Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?”  This should not be the case.  Women SHOULD be able to wear whatever they feel like and then feel safe and not subjugated.  One more interesting recent development related to fashion and feminist issues is the current interest in looking at women who wear Hijabs.  Naomi Wolf discusses the issue of westerners presuming that wearing a Hijab translates into oppression.  She describes that in fact, many women who wear them choose to do so and find them empowering.  She mentions one women who describes wearing a head scarf or more modest clothing as making her feel more free; freer of objectification, freer of sexual harassment and freer of having to worry all the time about how she looked compared to fashion models.
Honestly, I would like to see a world where NO ONE, was picked on, harassed or subjugated for what they wear or for any reason.  On top of that, no matter what someone is wearing, doing or saying, it is never okay to force, coheres and/or manipulate someone into doing something against their will. 

Hyperlinks (just click):
SlutWalk:  One, Two, Three, Four

Social Justice Event: The Occupy Movement (Occupy Providence and Occupy RIC)

For my Social Justice Event I choose to attend two separate Occupy movement events.  One event was the general assembly for the Rhode Island College Occupy.  I also spent several hours at the Occupy Providence encampment during their Occupy the Night event (Saturday, December 3, 2011). 
The RIC Occupy General assembly lasted roughly two hours and the emphasis of the meeting was to determine the possible future of the movement.  Discussed were several issues pertaining to the occupy movement as it relates to RIC Students.  One of the issues brought up was the question of why certain departments seemed to be getting favoritism in relation to the allocation of funds.  Why do certain building/departments get so much more funding than others?  Why is there so much red tape when trying to figure out where the money is going and why?  Another issue that was raised is that (in other Occupy movements) the voices of women and some other groups where not being heard nearly as loudly as they should.  For this reason there was a concern about the voices of all the attending individuals.  It seemed that everyone wanted to do more of a community movement rather than a small individual movement that did not adhere to the concerns of others.  In general, one of the largest concerns was about if Occupy RIC was going to go anywhere.  People brainstormed possible future actions such as private individual shows of support and actions as a group
Occupy Providence was a much larger and somewhat more organized movement than Occupy RIC.  Occupy Providence centered on Burnside Park in Providence next to the Kennedy Plaza.  This is an actual encampment where people are sleeping overnight consistently whereas Occupy RIC is more or less in the drafting stage.  During my visit I was fortunate enough to attend a feminist event called Occupy the Night that dealt with female and queer individuals as related to the Occupy Providence movement as well as in the society as a whole.  This event was to bring to attention the concerns and plight of the women and queer populations of Occupy and society as a whole.  It was felt by Occupy that these voices were not really heard as loudly and that their concerns were not brought to the table as much as should and could have been in the past.  The event included music, free food, public speaking and a march.  The main part (from the time that I was at Occupy Prov.) of the event that I attended was the public speakers.  People where allowed to come up and speak for several minutes at a time.  Several social justice organizations came up and spoke to the audience.  These included people for reproductive rights, actions against rape culture (especially related to college campuses) and domestic violence.  Domestic violence issues seemed to be the issue that was brought up the most in regard to speakers.  It seemed that this, like the other issues, were very important contemporary concerns with women, children and men all over the board. 
            One important thing that I observed is that feminist issues are no doubt an absolutely real concern with so many people today.  It was obvious that there were a number of people who have been hurt by these issues that have not really been fully addressed.  One such person is a very good friend of mine who is still currently living under the roof of an abusive parent.  It was also made obvious that not only physical, but verbal abuse also has a major impact on individuals.  A second interesting observation is that at both events feminist issues seemed to be a real concern of the attending individuals.  It seemed that in both instances it was a concern that certain issues were not being addressed as much as other issues and that there was a desire to change this.  Another important fact that I learned and that was mentioned during one of the speeches was the these issues of violence, rape culture, economic issues and women/human right issues are not individual issues that can just simply be tackled one by one, but they are intertwined issues that must be looked at holistically.  Situations such as economic concerns and rights of women can be interlocked with issues of domestic violence.  For example, if someone doesn’t have the ability to leave an abusive relationship due to an economic disadvantage then they can continue to suffer.  To use an analogy from class, we must not look at only one of the bars of the bird cage, but look at the cage in its entirety.  If all the bars support one another than it is not sufficient to only take one down, but to take down several at once in order to make any real progress forward in social justice.  Like in Contemporary Anthropology, we must try to look at things much more holistically.  We have to tackle not only the symptoms (violence, inequality), but we much try to fight the problem at the source so we do not just mask the problem, but we try to stop what is causing it. 

Link for Occupy the Night:

I will attempt to upload photos/videos from Occupy the Night to compliment this blog.