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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Elizabeth Chloe Romanis

Romanis, Elizabeth Chloe & Nelson, Anna (2020). Homebirthing in the United Kingdom during COVID-19. Medical Law International 096853322095522.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

COVID-19 has significantly impacted all aspects of maternity services in the United Kingdom, exacerbating the fact that choice is insufficiently centred within the maternity regime. In this article, we focus on the restrictions placed on homebirthing services by some National Health Service Trusts in response to the virus. In March 2020, around a third of Trusts implemented blanket policies suspending their entire homebirth service. We argue that the failure to protect choice about place of birth during the pandemic may not only be harmful to birthing people’s physical and mental health, but also that it is legally problematic as it may, in some instances, breach human rights obligations. We also voice concerns about the possibility that in the absence of available homebirthing services people might choose to freebirth. While freebirthing (birthing absent any medical or midwifery support) is not innately problematic, it is concerning that people may feel forced to opt for this.