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Education, support and advocacy for birth and wellness choices across Hawai'i

Midwifery Advocacy In Geneva

30 Oct 2023 1:20 PM | PBC Staff (Administrator)

Pacific Birth Collective board member and pale keiki Kiʻi Kahoʻohanohano and cultural practitioner Laulani Teale are in Geneva, Switzerland at the United Nations with the Center for Reproductive Rights. They presented a report on the human rights violation involving Hawaiʻiʻs criminalization of traditional midwifery among other issues involving the maternal healthcare crisis in the United States. For history on this topic, please read here.

Kiʻi and Laulani are working alongside the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Indigenous People's Working Group, advocating for multiple injustices occurring in the occupied nation of Hawaiʻi.

The report, entitled “Retrogression in U.S. Reproductive Rights: The Ongoing Fight for Reproductive Autonomy” describes the human rights abuses presently occurring in the U.S. with regard to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The report details how legal restrictions on midwifery are rooted in racism, and describes how the criminalization of midwives disproportionately harms Black and Indigenous

communities, undermining reproductive health and autonomy. Native Hawaiian and Polynesian women have the highest maternal mortality rates in the United States, more than 450% higher than white women, with 80% of deaths deemed preventable. These numbers represent the system that oppresses traditional methods which are the answer to filling in the gaps to care for low-income, rural, and families of color. It is statistically proven that culturally competent care significantly increases positive birth and health outcomes.

To be clear, this advocacy is not about trying to eliminate midwifery licensure in Hawaiʻi. We are not against licensure, we are against forced licensure and therefore forced assimilation and erasure of cultural and religious practices which has been the result of forced licensure for at least a century in America. Pacific Birth Collective strongly supports our licensed midwives. These midwives are our friends and allies, and we believe their work is essential and necessary. However, the way the law currently stands in Hawaii contributes to cultural erasure during a time when we need cultural wisdom and expertise more than ever.

PBC stands for choice. This advocacy is about ensuring that our communities will always get a choice about where and with whom they decide to give birth.

Press Release: UN Report: Hawai’i’s midwifery licensure law, Act 32, violates Human Rights

Education, Support, and Advocacy for Birth and Wellness Choices Across Hawai'i

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