Monday, September 15, 2008

Framing Birth As Public Health, Reproductive Rights Social Issue

In a previous post, I shared the legal connection between informed consent and birthing choices. Sara Ainsworth in the Seattle PI article, framed women's birthing choices as legal issues relating to reproductive rights, patient's rights, as well as the public health concerns stemming from the risks of Cesarean births.

Framing is a process of developing communications that change the way that people think about social issues. People tend to have existing intellectualized constructs that provides their interpretations of events and issues. Sometime those dominant frames are called "pictures in our heads," "mental shortcuts." (Source: Frameworks Institute)

Effective framing, combined with field building can bring out social change where coalitions of social policy advocates work together to effectively communicate about their issue.

I learned about framing policy issues in my graduate coursework from this summer. For that purpose, my cohort members and I worked on framing early childhood education as a social issue. However, my involvement in the birth community has led me to change my focus to framing birth issues as social issues that need policy changes that benefit infants, mothers and families, instead of the current system where its the obstetricians and insurance companies who benefit.

The dialouge about social frames has gotten started and the Northwest Women's Law Center has joined it. Who else will?

Will a think-tank (a policy, research and advocacy organization) ever be formed for birth issues? What type of effort is needed to accomplish the desired changes?

As one can tell, I'm not content to sit at my computer and bemoan all that is wrong with childbirth in the United States, as Rixa says.

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