November 28, 2014  

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Southern Miss to Host Film and Panel Discussion of “Freedom for Birth”

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The University of Southern Mississippi will host a film viewing and panel discussion of “Freedom for Birth,” a 58-minute film that re-frames human rights as the most pressing issue in childbirth today. The event will be held on the Hattiesburg campus in the Liberal Arts Building’s Gonzales Auditorium (LAB 108) Thursday, Nov. 1 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

In many countries, if a woman wants to have a home birth supported by a midwife, those midwives face criminal prosecution. “Freedom for Birth” calls for radical reform of the world’s maternity systems so that these human rights violations stop and women are afforded real choice as to how and where they give birth.

Described by the filmmakers as “the biggest event in the history of birth activism,” “Freedom For Birth” tells the story of Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb, imprisoned for supporting women during homebirths, and the subsequent successful European Court of Human Rights case that has major implications for childbirth around the world.

Dr. Amy Miller of the Southern Miss Department of Sociology and Anthropology says the film is a wonderful invitation for the university community to think about childbirth as an issue of human rights and social justice from a global perspective.

“We often think about births in terms of the experiences of our family and friends, but this film will open people’s eyes to broader social concerns related to this universal human experience,” Miller said.

Immediately following the film, a brief panel discussion will feature a geography professor, a professor emeritus of nursing and a local Mississippi advocate for midwifery. Audience members will be able to ask questions of the panel and gain different perspectives on this social issue.  Participants may also collect information from midwifery-related businesses and organizations in Mississippi at the event.

“We rarely think about childbirth today outside of the hospital context, but midwifery continues as a profession in Mississippi and elsewhere, and this film provides a forum for learning about midwives not only globally, but also locally,” Miller said.  

For more information about this event, call 601.266.4306 or visit http://www.usm.edu/anthropology-sociology