Protecting human rights in childbirth

Montgomery and consent

“Gone are the days when it was thought that, on becoming pregnant, a woman lost, not only her capacity, but also her right to act as a genuinely autonomous human being.”

Supreme Court Justice Brenda Hale

Following the landmark UK Supreme Court decision in the Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board (2015) case, Birthrights held a seminar in October 2017, hosted by Green Templeton College, Oxford, as part of the Sheila Kitzinger programme. We brought together leaders in law and healthcare to proactively shape implementation of the Montgomery judgement in the UK and support a maternity culture that enables women’s autonomy and lawful consent. Read the summary of the discussions and recommendations here

The seminar concluded more work was needed to equip healthcare professionals with the skills to have choice conversations with women, and to raise awareness with women about their right to give informed consent and decline interventions. These actions go to the core of Birthrights’ work training healthcare professionals and providing an advice service to pregnant women, families, and caregivers.

The third agreed action was to develop an intrapartum consent tool to support both healthcare professionals and women, particularly in the more challenging circumstances of labour. Birthrights and NHS England have been working together to co-produce this tool, provisionally named IDECIDE, which was tested with healthcare professionals, women and their partners in early 2019. Feedback is currently being reviewed and further plans are being made to pilot and roll out the tool nationally.