Assembly considers law to restrict ‘obstetric violence’ against women in childbirth

Aug 1, 2016 | 15 comments

Gabriela Rivadeneira, president of the National Assembly, says it is time to “humanize” childbirth in Ecuador by restricting the practice of Caesarean section delivery and encouraging traditional birthing methods.

National Assembly President

National Assembly President Gabriela Rivadeneira.

According to Rivadeneira, the country’s private medical services encourage doctors to perform Caesarean, or C-section, deliveries because they are easier and generate greater profits.

“The proportion of births by C-section are entirely out of line with the need in Ecuador,” she said. “It is a form of violence against women and one intended only to generate more money for private providers,” she says. She claims the number of C-sections performed in Ecuador has sky-rocketed over the past decade.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that C-sections should average between 13 and 15 percent of all births in a country, calling for its use only in “high risk” cases. Rivadeneira claims the rate of C-section births in private hospitals and clinics in Ecuador is 80 percent. “There are some doctors who perform so many births by C-section, they have forgotten how to conduct natural births.”

She adds that C-sections are sometimes necessary for the safety of the mother and child, but says this is true only in a small proportion of cases. “C-sections leave scars, both physical and emotional, that can affect women for the rest of their lives.”

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In addition to requiring justification for C-sections, the proposed Humanized Childbirth Act, of which Rivadeneira is a sponsor, would encourage traditional forms of childbirth that have been practiced in the Andean region of South America for centuries. “Vertical delivery, in which the woman stands upright during the birth, is still widely used by indigenous people and has been proven safe and effective,” she says. She also said that water births are still standard in some communities in Ecuador. The proposed legislation mandates that alternative forms of childbirth be incorporated into the country’s social security and public health systems.

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