Gloria Lemay

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On January 1, l998 British Columbia regulated the profession of midwifery and I declined to join the College of Midwives. 

I do not agree with the policies of the College of Midwives, which include inducing healthy women after a certain length of pregnancy, administering unnecessary medications to healthy babies, and recommending that women who had a history of cesarean birth give birth in hospital. 

I was fearful that regulation would change the public service and alternative nature of true midwifery and make it more like the allopathic model.

I am a determined supporter of Gloria Lemay. I find it dismaying to the extreme that registered BC midwives would so grossly misunderstand what her practice means to women who do not desire the presence of a registered midwife at their births. I have not found Ms. Lemay to be a "healthcare professional" in the sense used in your responses. I believe that she is a birth attendant whose first and foremost desire is to follow the wishes of the client and assist her as she births.

She brings no belief that birth must be managed or that it is an illness of any kind. With this in mind, clients are well informed as to their choices, and this includes the use of Vitamin K or any other substance. Both of the responses [Issue 4:5] seem to indicate that if Ms. Lemay's clients were informed they would, of course, choose Vit K for their infants. This is far from the truth. And this is exactly the kind of belief system that drives birthing women away from registered midwives. Well-informed women choose to birth in a safe atmosphere, one in which they are safe not only from management by a health professional but one in which their choices are clearly respected. The midwife who presupposes that a client who chooses not to give Vitamin K to her infant is ignorant of the facts is exactly the midwife I do not want near me as I birth. So to whom do I go? In BC there seems to be only the way legislated by the government with no room for my personal, informed choice.

I am spending more and more time with women who have birthed with registered midwives and for subsequent births seek an alternative.

Their choice is based not on a dislike of registered midwives, but simply on the realization that registered midwifery has not provided the care they desired. Many of these women, in the absence of a traditional birth attendant, are choosing unassisted birth instead - a glorious choice for some, being forced into a corner for others. It is sad indeed that the BC College of Midwives is working so hard to eliminate choice of attendant for women like these. It is a shame that the very institution and its members who proposed to provide gentle, respectful care to birthing women should so quickly decide that only they are capable of providing it whether the birthing family agrees or not. There was a time when we all were united in working with families for joyful birth. It appears that time has passed.

Mary-Tim Hare

It concerns me that some BC midwives are questioning if Gloria Lemay is, indeed, "offering informed decision-making to her clients." I'm quite certain she is. I would imagine that women who choose Ms. Lemay do a lot of decision-making before they even become pregnant. As we all know, there is huge variety regarding what women desire from a caregiver. There are many wise, educated women who choose to believe that whichever course nature takes is the right one; they accept the challenges and conceive, grow, deliver, and raise their children on their own, in their way, finding guided support and professional assistance where and when they need it. These kinds of women need to have the option of being attended by women like Gloria Lemay. This is the real issue. If women are choosing to be cared for by Gloria, then Gloria's services are wonderful and necessary.

-Searching for someone like her in Ontario

Midwifery Today E News (click to view)
February 6, 2002
Volume 4, Issue 6

Homebirth Assoc. of BC Press Release

Another BC grandmother is looking at a possible jail term this month (April 2002).

Awaiting her day in court is 54 year old Gloria Lemay, found guilty of helping women to have babies. Seventy-three year old great grandmother Betty Krawczyk has only recently been released; her jail term was for saving ancient trees in the Elaho valley.

Gloria has been a traditional birth attendant for 23 years, providing B.C. families with support before, during and after birth. She was found guilty
of breaking an injunction that banned her from practicing as a midwife. The injunction was brought by the newly formed BC College of Midwives, which she had declined to join when it was formed to govern midwives in 1998.

Gloria said "The writing was on the wall when the College of Midwives rented space for their office at B.C. Women's Hospital-midwifery, once a strong
alternative to conventional practice, would be taken over and medicalized. I never dreamed that midwives would agree to such regulation by doctors in order to keep the peace and earn a salary."

For her efforts to make a difference, Betty was sentenced in 2000 after she broke an injunction banning the blockade of a logging road into the
untouched old forests of the upper Elaho Valley. The courts decided to set an example to other protestors and jailed her. She was 72 and had eight grandchildren at the time. "We must fight this government's attempt to control people by charging them with contempt of court." said Betty. "Once you are charged with contempt of court, you are in a black hole without any of the protection the legal system provides for criminal charges.
Government by injunction is a cowardly tactic used against protestors or anyone who disagrees with those in power".

Gloria and Betty are the latest in a long line of Canadian women who have stood for unpopular causes while society grappled with rights and freedoms.  In the early 1900s, Canadian women did not have the right to vote and activism was necessary to gain voting rights by 1925. In 1936 Dorothea Palmer, a nurse in Ottawa, was charged with distributing birth control to women in defiance of federal law. In the 1950s, grandmothers from the Sons of Freedom Doukhobours in Grand Forks, B.C., claimed their right to home school their children. They burned down the government schools that would destroy their culture and identity and were imprisoned for their actions. The right of parents to home school their children took many years of struggle to establish.

Today, these freedoms are taken for granted and if a government suggested their reversal, it would be the object of worldwide condemnation. Gloria
says "Throwing off the shackles of state control over our bodies has been a 100 year struggle for Canadian women. Women can be trusted to make better choices for themselves and their families than the 'parental' bureaucracy that means so well but cannot live in the woman's skin." What is at issue in her case is the right of women to choose a birth attendant outside the government -regulated system when they give birth at home.

Born in Bliss... at Home.

Born in Bliss...
at Home




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