Anti-Oppression Practice Statement

Steel City Midwives is deeply disturbed, saddened, and angered by the ongoing racism, xenophobia, homophobia, trans/non-binary discrimination and denial of evidence based practices in the Southwestern PA homebirth community.

Obstetrical violence and white supremacy go hand in hand. We at Steel City Midwives denounce the long history of systemic and systematic anti-blackness in the greater Pittsburgh community and the ingrained racism, discrimination, and violence against BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ birthing community.

Racism, colorism, white supremacy, and fascism are by no means endemic to the homebirth midwifery profession alone. Injustice, inequity, discrimination, and violence are perpetuated in all aspects of public and private life including education, health, employment, politics, and even within the same movements and institutions that claim to fight against violations of human rights. For example, Black people are forced to navigate systems, structures, and spaces that perpetuate oppression, most recently illustrated by how black communities in the US and worldwide are disproportionately bearing the burden of COVID-19.

We also know the perinatal death numbers: an expecting Black parent is 3-4 times more likely to have a pregnancy-related death than a white person. Black babies are twice as likely to die in their first year than white infants, with the leading cause being low birth weight. However, these are not just numbers; these are lived realities of Black people every day in Pittsburgh and the US.

Meanwhile, pregnant queer and transgender people face numerous health disparities as well as stigma, discrimination, harassment, lack of access to competent or knowledgeable providers, and full-on denial of prenatal care.

When such structural inequalities result in death or threats to life, it is a violation of human rights including the right to live a life free from violence and discrimination. Steel City Midwives acknowledges that culturally matched midwifery care produces the best outcomes for all pregnant people and their babies. As such, we are committed to training only BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ midwives, in service to those communities.

We welcome and support the much-needed, recently ignited conversations regarding practice protocols within the Southwestern PA homebirth community. Evidence-based care can not vary depending on the provider's biases towards the client's race, ethnicity, disability status, gender identity or presentation, or sexual orientation. Steel City Midwives is committed to scientific fact and evidence-based care, while supporting clients' full autonomy over their bodies and their births within our scope of practice. Therefore we will never knowingly collaborate with, refer to, or otherwise support the practices of providers (doctors, specialists, counselors, doulas, other midwives, etc.) who are known to us to be unsafe due to being racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and/or otherwise refusing to engage in anti-oppression work.

We particularly stand together with all those who are speaking out about structural, systemic, and individual instances of racism and oppression embedded in homebirth, organizations, communities, and various other facets of society. We applaud the bravery of those who refuse to be silent about and complicit in past and present abuses in midwifery care. These difficult conversations allow all of us to weave stronger structures of resistance together.

We vow to continue to operate in mutual care and support while listening, unlearning, dismantling, and rebuilding, as we create a new, equitable and just homebirth standard for our region.

*This statement was informed and inspired by the work of RESURJ.

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