Protecting human rights in childbirth

Our Trustees

Chair

Elizabeth Prochaska

Elizabeth is a barrister and Legal Director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. She specialises in public and human rights law and has a particular interest and expertise in women’s rights relating to pregnancy and childbirth. She regularly advises women and health professionals in this area and has lectured on childbirth rights around the world, working with lawyers and campaigners to promote women’s dignity and autonomy.

You can read her speech on the launch of Birthrights here.

Sarah Cooke OBE

Sarah Cooke OBE is a consultant specialising in human rights and equality issues. She has particular experience and expertise in using the human rights framework to make a practical difference to the lives of vulnerable people.  She also has experience of working on strategy and organisational development and evaluation.  She has developed a special focus on mental health and social welfare in much of her work.  Previously she was Director of the British Institute of Human Rights for seven years, Deputy Chair of the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales and Chair of British Irish Rights Watch. She was also, for five years, the alternate management board member for the UK of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. She is presently a Specialist Lay Member of the First Tier Tribunal for Health Education and Social Care (Mental Health).

Rachel Crasnow QC

Rachel is a leading silk in equality, employment and human rights work. She practices in all aspects of domestic and EU employment law, acting in high-profile cases in forums including the Supreme Court and CJEU. She undertakes a wide range of work from equal pay, working time and maternity rights to TUPE, internal disciplinary tribunals and collective rights. She is particularly recognised for her expertise in discrimination law; her practice includes advising in goods & services cases and regulatory work. Rachel is regularly instructed in high value and complex trials by individuals, private companies, and public sector bodies. She is a trained mediator and is often instructed in difficult mediations. Part-time judge. Frequently instructed as an external investigator.

Deborah Crewe

Deborah is a former senior civil servant with 17 years’ policy experience working in the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Ministry of Justice and NHS. She now works freelance as a writer and editor. Deborah is mother to three school-age daughters, including twins.

John Davis

John is an entrepreneur and business leader who is expert in small businesses, banking and technology. After time at Lehman Brothers and Sky, he worked for 10 years at Barclays as the Marketing and Product Director for Barclays Business before running a fast-growth start-up to scale up company called BCSG. He sold that business and two others during 2016 and 2017 and now acts as a Non-Executive Director, adviser and consultant to a range of companies and charities. He also spends plenty of time with his three school-age daughters.

Julie Frohlich

Julie is a consultant midwife and supervisor of midwives at a London teaching hospital. Her remit as a consultant midwife is promoting normality. Julie is a passionate advocate of personalised maternity care which promotes women’s dignity and empowerment and supports women’s individualised choices regarding their own maternity care.

Carolyn Johnston

Carolyn is a consultant anaesthetist at St George’s Hospital in London, with clinical commitments covering obstetric anaesthesia, pre-operative assessment, and renal transplantation amongst others. She has an interest in healthcare improvement, particularly improving patient experience; leading projects improving patient feedback and involving patients as partners in designing new services and safety improvements. She was an NHS London Leadership ‘Darzi’ Fellow and an Improvement Faculty fellow of the NHS Institute of Innovation. She teaches regularly on local, regional and national courses, with particular interests in coaching, simulation and non technical skills/human factors. She is also working with the Royal College of Anaesthetists on research into less-than-full-time training outcomes and developing quality improvement training for doctors.

Simon Mehigan

Simon was the Clinical Director at One to One Midwives and is now a Director of Midwifery in an NHS Trust. A midwife for 20 years, his particular areas of interest are supporting women that have had a previous traumatic experience achieve a more positive outcome in future pregnancies and births and encouraging health professionals to continually question what they do and how they care for women and their families. He strongly believes that promoting a culture within maternity services where women are treated with respect and kindness, and where they feel informed, supported and empowered can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the wider community.

Rebecca Schiller

Rebecca was co-chair of the Birthrights’ board from its founding until late 2015 when she became Chief Executive, and from January 2019 Rebecca has rejoined the board as a Trustee. Rebecca is a freelance journalist, author and occasional doula. Her latest book, Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan: a revolutionary guide to pregnancy, birth and the weeks that follow was published by Penguin Life in 2018. She has also written two books on human rights in childbirth published by Pinter and Martin and the Guardian. Before entering the childbirth world as a doula she completed a Masters degree in War Studies with a focus on human rights issues. She has worked in the charity and the NGO sector, most recently at Human Rights Watch.

Rineke Schram

Catharina (known as Rineke) Schram is a Consultant Obstetrician and Chief Medical Officer at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. Her clinical expertise is in women with medical conditions during pregnancy (e.g. diabetes) and women with complications during childbirth. She has a particular interest in women’s right to informed consent (and informed refusal), and dignity and choice during pregnancy and childbirth. In her professional lead role for doctors she strives to ensure that medical ethical principles such as the right to autonomy, informed consent and confidentiality are upheld and protected.