Πέμπτη, 25 Απριλίου 2013

Concerning the Group ECtHR Application against Greece for homebirths and placenta disposal


In February, after submissions by the the NGOs GHM and Hellenic Action for Human Rights – “Pleiades”, Greece was examined for generalized violence and discrimination against women in front of the relative UN Committee (CEDAW) and as a result, since March 1st 2013, suggestions have been made by the UN body and Greece is being monitored on the issue of extremely high % of caesarean sections.
Recently a Group Application (Orfanidou and others v. Greece) was lodged with the ECtHR. The applicants are either pregnant or have recently birthed. All of them were inclined to give birth at home, in order to avoid unnecessary interventions in Greek Maternity Hospitals, where caesarean section rates are the highest globally, and also decided not to “dispose of” their placentas as “infectious whaste”, according to Greek legislation, but rather burry them and plant a tree on top in a private space of their choice.
Moreover, recently, in Thessaloniki area (Northern Greece) a midwife and a health care professional, as well as doctors and all parents who gave birth at home in that area during 2009-10, were, among others, prosecuted for “environmental pollution”, that is for not surrendering their placentas to authorized private companiew for “proper disposal”.
All home birth declarations and certificates were transferred to a number of Public Authorities, without prior notice of the subjects of that personal data. Concerning the prosecutions, 2 Parliamentary Questions were lodged and another one addressed to the European Parliament. In all the above is mentioned that, although homebirth is not forbidden, in practice it is clearly targeted by the Greek State.
The ECtHR Applicants maintain that the legal uncertainty (lack of framework) and the series of injust prosecutions hinders their right to freely choose the conditions of their birth. The recent “reaction” by the Greek State become clear through extensive profiling, regulations on placenta disposal by companies that are not effevtively monitored (bioethical issues arise) and the actual threat of penal and administrational peosecutions to themselves and to the persons who the women choose to support them in their choices about and during labour.
For this quest for respect to their body, their biological material and their choices, they argue that there are no legal remedies in internal Greek law, since legislation either is not of help or even victimizes them directly because of the exercise of their ECHR rights, whilst administrational practices and authorities openly target homebirth indirectly –so that they don’t have “an act” against which to turn, since homebirth per se is not forbidden.
Relative info can be found at http://forbirth.blogspot.com, which is managed by the human rights lawyer who represents the group of women in the ECtHR application.