Think It’s About the Babies? Think Again.


I was recently saddened to find out that Nicole Deggins, the awesome nurse midwife (and birth activist, and childbirth educator, and blogger, and…) behind “Your Birth Right” had been given a cease and desist by another group claiming a trademark infringement.

On her blog she explained a little:

As many of you already know, a few weeks ago, I was contacted by the lawyers from an organization asking that I cease doing business under the name of Your Birth Right because it was improper use of their company’s trademark “Birthright”. Being a midwife and nurse and NOT a lawyer I really had no idea what this meant and I was completely confused as in my opinion Your Birth Right and Birthright were not the same and as such I was NOT infringing on their trademark at all.

After doing some research and speaking with a few lawyers it all began to make sense. Unfortunately, while our names are NOT the exact same and we are NOT providing the exact same services, they do have a legitimate claim and the right/responsibility to ask me to cease use of their Trademark. So what does all of this mean? It means that effective immediately, I will be moving forward to stop all business, marketing, advertising, and postings that include or come from any entity with my current business name “Your Birth Right.”

Here’s how clueless I am: I wondered, “The people who send Jewish youths to Israel? Really?”

I eventually discovered that the group giving her guff was actually Birthright International, a crisis pregnancy center group.

Not knowing a whole lot about intellectual property, I wondered whether Birthright Israel might actually have a superior claim to the trademark, or whether they were similarly harassing the Dungeons and Dragons group of the same name. But Nicole explained to me:

they would have a greater claim IF i was talking about Israel but since i’m talking about BIRTH that’s the issue

It seems that the theory is that because there could be possible confusion, she is infringing on their trademark. Here’s the thing: the CPC group isn’t actually about pregnancy, it’s about not having abortions. Others have written extensively about CPCs and how they utterly fail to advance any aspect of women’s health. All a woman can get from most is a free pregnancy test, a guilt trip, and maybe some help filling out a food stamp form. As anyone who knows anything about pregnancy can tell you, there’s a lot more to it than just knowing you’re pregnant and not having an abortion. Birthright tipped their hand by bullying someone who is actually embodying what crisis pregnancy centers only pretend to advance.

Let’s face it, as awesome of an ally to birthing women as Nicole is, she’s a one-woman-show. How could that possibly be a threat to a group that claims some 400 chapters internationally? If they are really on such solid footing, why would they be worried about a midwife spreading a message of empowerment for pregnant women and helping them achieve a positive birth experience? You would think that if they really cared about babies and not just trademark turf battles, they’d happily support a woman who has dedicated her life to helping women bring babies into the world.

Maybe they just can’t see the words “truthful information” and “options” (as in “We believe women should be given truthful information about birth options including birth settings and interventions.”) or “woman’s rights, personal power, autonomy, choices” (as in “We believe the current climate of maternity care and prenatal education in this country is designed to undermine a woman’s rights, personal power, autonomy, choices and her trust in her innate abilities.”) without thinking that this has to be some sort of radical feminist abortion procurement service out to poach their embryos.

Sorry, Birthright, Nicole is actually about the moms and babies, and she won’t be silenced.

Please visit www.yourbirthright.com to sign up for updates on Nicole’s work as she regroups. You can let her know what great work she’s doing via Twitter @NicoleDeggins.

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  • tonys

    …the lives of over 1,000 female humans were ended today in the U.S. through induced abortion.

    I wonder how they would choose if they had a choice?

    Pro-Choice isn’t a choice when only 1 party in the partnership has a vote.  Pro-Choice…totalitarianism in freedom’s clothing.

  • courtroom-mama

    This total non-sequitur only goes to show the singleminded focus of anti-choice activism: just make women stay pregnant. Sorry, over four million American women carry to term every year, we can’t ignore them.

     

    It is exactly this sort of thinking that would lead people who claim to stand for babies to try to crowd out and ruin the livelihood of someone who actually does stand for babies. Simply put, she “loves them both.” Neither her business nor her blog talks about abortion, nor has a whiff of pro-choice politics. Frankly, it’s irrelevant and for all I know, Ms. Deggins opposes abortion. That doesn’t stop me from supporting her, because what I do know is that she cares very deeply about and works to promote healthy pregnancy and birth.

     

    What happened to her makes it seem as though Birthright is actually more focused on guilting and coercing women into not having abortions than it is on helping them have healthy, empowering pregnancies.

  • prochoiceferret

    …the lives of over 1,000 female humans were ended today in the U.S. through induced abortion.

    I wonder how they would choose if they had a choice?

    Probably the same as the billion or so female humans that were never even conceived due to people “choosing” abstinence.

     

    Don’t you think that the children of the future should get a say as to whether we have hot monkey sex tonight or not?

     

    Pro-Choice…totalitarianism in freedom’s clothing.

    Yes, we will only find true freedom in forcing pregnant women to remain pregnant whether they want to or not. Is it time for the Two-Minute Hate yet?

  • crowepps

    Trademark Protection cases are never, ever about ‘principles’.  Trademark Protection cases are always, ALWAYS about the money.

     

    Organized misogyny brings in mondo bucks for doing very little – line up the crowd, scream some hate, give them permission to “let a wave of intolerance come over” them and they not only will pay to get on your tour bus to go off to “kill the monster”, they will pay you personally for the hate preaching, buy your book/CD/DVD preaching hate, they’ll even pay $50 for the “Trademark Torch and Pitchfork ProLife Protest Pak WITH plastic fetus AND special bonus bumpersticker: “Will Kill Because I’m ProLife” even though it wholesales for  one-tenth of that at your Chinese supplier because his ‘employees’ are all under 12.

     

    When it comes to Big Bizness, it is never, ever about the PRODUCT, it is always about the BUCKS.

  • mannursediaries

    To be fair, in my area the clinics which provide abortions seem to be a bigger business and take out bigger, flashier ads in the yellow pages than the CPCs. So I would assume an organization named Birthright would be a provider of abortion services! And I would also think that a big private abortion provider with that name would’ve pursued her just as much for trademark infringement. Honestly I don’t see the connection here with anti-abortion causes except that people are annoyed at CPCs already.

     

    Apparently most CPCs are bad places, but my wife worked with a quasi-nonreligious crisis pregnancy center which didn’t make a lot of money but did help a lot of lower-income urban single moms. I mean, they easily had a couple thousand families turn out to their parties. It was a good thing to see.

  • tonys

    Yes, we will only find true freedom in forcing pregnant women to remain pregnant whether they want to or not.

     

    Most women in the U.S. are not “forced to get pregnant” in the first place.  They chose to have sex.  But, all pre-born humans are forced to die when their Mom’s choose abortion.  Either way, a human being is forced to have something done against their will.  

    You’re just more comfortable with the pre-born human dying than you are with a woman being forced to keep the pregnancy.  It is that simple.

     

  • queenyasmeen

    According to CARE International, 25,000 people– born, living, breathing, sentient people, many of them children– die every day due to starvation.  But the focus on interrupting women’s lives and bodies, even when one woman is trying to make birth a powerful, affirmative experience for mother and child is about “life.”  Of course.

     

    Also, Ferret, thanks for throwin’ out the phrase “hot monkey sex.”  I needed that. :)

  • crowepps

    You’re just more comfortable with the pre-born human dying than you are with a woman being forced to keep the pregnancy.

    And so your position is that you are “more comfortable” with the woman being forced to continue the pregnancy than you are with the ZBEF dying?  Would that have anything at all to do with the fact that such a policy will never, ever inconvenience you personally?  It sure is easy to decide that other people ought to do something to make oneself ‘more comfortable’, isn’t it?

  • courtroom-mama

    This is an honest question: do you really think that an abortion provider would name their business “Birthright”? I’m sure that in some areas there are private clinics with dough, although I’ve only ever lived in places where there are only one or two providers (PP and the county), but there are a dozen CPCs with enormous billboards all over town. So from that limited perspective, I’d be very surprised indeed if a place that didn’t deliver babies or give prenatal care (like Planned Parenthood doesn’t) put “birth” in their name. My limited perspective also leads me to think that these providers are too busy providing services and fending off antis to be chasing after lone midwives on the internet with their attorneys. I think they’d definitely go after someone who sets up a CPC with a very similar name nearby, which has happened if I recall, but the proliferation of places with sort of sneaky names makes me think that the prochoicers aren’t quite so liberal with the cease-and-desists. But, hypothetically, if an abortion clinic pulled this crap, I’d be very miffed.

     

    Just to be clear, I’m not categorically against CPCs. I think that as long as they are nondirective and up front about the fact that they won’t counsel about abortion, like they are required to do in Baltimore, and don’t pose as medical professionals when they aren’t, by all means, support pregnant women! A lot of women need a lot of support, prenatal care, childbirth ed, etc. etc. and far be it from me to poo-poo it because I have a political disagreement with the source

     

    I think that part of my beef is about the principle. If the D&D group sued, it would be stupid but not enraging, but the fact that the group making threats is a monied place that claims to care about pregnant women but is, I’ve discovered, notorious for being misleading and shady really chaps my ass. This woman’s business poses pretty much zero threat to them or their market share – in fact, if someone did get confused and consult her instead of them, she’d end up fulfilling their putative goal of being supported in pregnancy and birth. If it were really about the babies, and not about money or propagandizing, you’d think this would be a good thing.

     

    Does that make a little more sense? (PS, love your blog)

  • tonys

    And so your position is that you are “more comfortable” with the woman being forced to continue the pregnancy than you are with the ZBEF dying?  Would that have anything at all to do with the fact that such a policy will never, ever inconvenience you personally?  It sure is easy to decide that other people ought to do something to make oneself ‘more comfortable’, isn’t it?

     

    My position is that millions of ZBEFs (or whatever name you call a developing, living human) have been killed in the name of convenience over the past 30+ years.  Perfectly healthy fetuses (meaning “young ones”) have been destroyed because they were an “inconvenience.”  If you cannot see the complete brutality (saline-burned ZBEFs, bodies completely dismantled, etc…), the total destructive nature of abortion, then nothing I type will convince you of this abhorrent procedure we have allowed due to “convenience.”

     

    And, by the way, I am the father of 5 awesome post-born ZBEFs that I have loved and sacrified for (thank God!) and am just dealing with the news that my wife miscarried for the 4th time.  Don’t talk to me about not having a say in this discussion because I am not a woman.  My wife is the most amazing woman you will ever meet and we have laughed, cried, worried and worked together as we shared the responsibilities of the life we helped to create.

  • goatini

    Are you aware of the health risks of repeated pregnancies?  High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, compromised kidney function, hemorrhage, and thinning of the uterine walls are just a few of the risks you are subjecting your wife to.  

     

    I think it is brutal, destructive and abhorrent to force repeated (**9**!!!!) pregnancies upon a woman, when you must surely be aware of the health risks you are willfully imposing on her.  I think it shows a callous disregard for the LIFE of the LIVING WOMAN, whose own life never seems to be considered in the so-called “pro-life” equation.  

  • nicole-your-birth-right

    Thanks Courtroom Mamma for this wonderful post and for advocating for me.  I definitely will NOT be silenced!!! You are AWESOME!!!

  • medwoman

    To TonyS,

    The point that you make with regard to the loving life that you and your wife have created is wonderful and you two are blessed to have found in each other partners who are supportive and able to provide for each other and your children. I would ask you to consider however, that not everyone has been so blessed. There are women whose lives are placed at risk by pregnancy, who are pregnant through coercive situations such as rape or incest, or simply, in the case of the youngest, because their parents did not provide them with the education and supervision necessary to prevent a pregnancy. These women are not mythical or a left wing distortion of reality. As an obstetrician/gyncologist ( who does not provide abortion by choice), I have seen these circumstances in my own career. So while I fully support your right to bring children whom you are prepared to support in to the world, I would ask you to recognize that not all men and women share you circumstances and should be able to choose their own best course based on their belief system and needs as opposed to yours.

  • sweetchild92

    You realize a medical abortion is inducing what your wife’s body did by miscarrying? Did her body kill a beloved preborn, or does it not count since 2 pills were not involved?

  • tonys

    …and my wife was never “forced” to get pregnant.  Except for our first pregnancy (unplanned, not married – allowed ZBEF to live – now 16-year old beautiful daughter), we made the decision together.  Pregnancy is not an illness and your opinions are not even close to being factual.  But keep living the lie if it makes you feel better.

  • tonys

    Medwoman, thank you for your well-intended response.  I completely agree when you wrote:

    There are women whose lives are placed at risk by pregnancy, who are pregnant through coercive situations such as rape or incest, or simply, in the case of the youngest, because their parents did not provide them with the education and supervision necessary to prevent a pregnancy.

     

    But, I would add that these are a small minority of the “crisis” pregnancies that occur each year and that conversely, many women have abortions after not receiving the same amount of education you are espousing for preventing the pregnancy in the first place. 

     

    I think we both agree that a ton more can be done to create situations where young men and women are raised in families that teach them to respect and love themselves so they don’t think that acceptance and love comes from having sex (commonly unprotected) with the first person who shows an interest in them.

     

    I was a dad at 20 years old and unmarried, but was blessed with parents and my wife’s family who were supportive of our decision to allow our pre-born child to live.

     

    Taking the life of the one who never had the choice at being created and is the most innocent and helpless will not help women or our society as a whole.

  • arekushieru

    <<Taking the life of the one who never had the choice at being created and is the most innocent and helpless will not help women or our society as a whole.>>

     

    Pregnancy is the second leading cause of death in women worldwide.  Taking the rights away of women who had no choice at being created with a uterus,  will not help women or our society as a whole.  Restricting their sexual freedoms will not do it.  Restricting their right to bodily autonomy will not do it.  Feoti are neither innocent nor helpless.  Feoti suppress a woman’s immune system.  Doesn’t sound very helpless to me.  Innocence is the default of a lack of guilt, not the lack of a capacity to be guilty.  Otherwise, you could say they are guilty of implantation because guilt is the default of the lack of a capacity to be innocent….

  • tonys

    From the report:   Reproductive health problems, including HIV/AIDS, are the leading cause of death among women ages 15 to 44 and are responsible for approximately 250 million years of productive life lost annually

     

    To claim that pregnancy kills women is disingenuous at best.

  • equalist

    To claim that pregnancy kills women is disingenuous at best.

    Because no woman anywhere has ever died of pregnancy complications such as hemorage after or during birth, or gestational diabetes, or preeclampsia (spelling?) during pregnancy or any of the other miriad of possible complications that arise from pregnancy.  The fact is that pregnancy is uncomfortable at best and life threatening at worst.  It is not something that every woman would choose for herself regardless of relationship status, and to insist that if a woman, even a married woman or a woman in a stable monogamous relationship should simply avoid having intercourse with her partner if she does not want to become pregnant is a rediculous request, particularly when you’re making that request of women who you have no part in their lives. 

  • arekushieru

    And I suggest you read up on why hiv/aids is included in that list.  Perhaps because pregnant women are more vulnerable to it, as well as the feoti, especially during childbirth…?

     

    And you, apparently, don’t understand the difference between life-threatening and actual death.

     

    Btw, what do you think pregnancy is a part of, if not reproductive health?

  • crowepps

    New research, however, suggests that babies born at home have an elevated risk of death compared to those born in hospitals.

    The authors found that women who gave birth at home had lower risk factors overall, fewer infections, less hemorrhaging, and so on. But, the research finds, this can come at a cost to the safety of their child: “Of significant concern, these apparent benefits are associated with a doubling of the neonatal mortality rate overall and a near tripling among infants born without congenital defects,” the researchers said.

     

    The research did not reveal exactly why newborn deaths were more likely with home births, however a high proportion of home-birth deaths were related to breathing problems.

    http://www.livescience.com/health/home-births-risk-100709.html

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a link to the actual report of the study that isn’t pay-to-view

  • courtroom-mama

    Hi Crowepps,

    I’m not sure how the information that you posted is relevant to the discussion, but I have some information that you might find useful.  Amy Romano, writing for Science and Sensibility, explains how the Wax meta-analysis is so limited that it is “junk science.” In short, the Wax paper may be good for wrapping a sandwich, but that’s about it.

     

    Furthermore, Jennifer Block and The Big Push for Midwives point out (pdf) that the timing of the release of this study is suspect, coinciding with major political victories for home birth supporters in two states. In fact, this coincides with the release of another report, discussed by Jill at The Unnecesarean,  that identified the need to distinguish between planned and unplanned home births — something that the study you referenced did not do. From the coverage at The Unnecesarean:

    The authors discuss how a prospective cohort analysis, such as one that is underway in England, could track mothers from late pregnancy to the immediate postpartum and note their intention concerning their place of birth. What they call an “intention-to-treat” analysis could provide information on planned home births that occur at home versus planned home births in which women transfer to a hospital. The 2009 home birth studies from the Netherlands (de Jonge) and British Columbia (Janssen) conducted such analyses retrospectively and, after controlling for characteristics of women in the studies, found similar outcomes between home and hospital births.

     

    I hope that helps!

    -CM

  • crowepps

    Did seem to me that if the problem was ‘breathing problems’ of the newborn rather than any problem in the delivery itself, perhaps an assistive breathing technology useable by the midwives might help – but I am strictly a non-medical onlooker in this discussion and am not at all sure what they meant by that or what would be proper treatment in response.  I will also note that neonate problems were very, very rare and the mothers did better.

    The authors found that women who gave birth at home had lower risk factors overall, fewer infections, less hemorrhaging, and so on.

    The medical industries war on midwives has been going on for centuries — so the conclusions in ‘studies’ by either of the combatants are always suspect.

     

    I will note, however, that the study did indeed attempt to exclude unplanned home births.

    “It was the largest study to date, examining 342,056 planned home births and 207,511 planned hospital deliveries. (The “planned” criterion was important to distinguish between mothers who chose to give birth at home, and those who intended to deliver in a medical setting but were unable to for logistical or financial reasons.) “

  • crowepps

    My daughter had one hospital birth and one at the midwife’s birth center and her midwife won HANDS DOWN as far as a great birth experience!

  • emma

    Sweetchild makes a good point, TonyS. By continuing to impregnate your wife, in spite of the fact that she keeps miscarrying, you are intentionally producing ZBEFs that you *know* are probably going to die. So far, your choices have – if one subscribes to ‘pro-life” ideology, as you indicate you do – murdered four ZBEFs. FOUR! Given that, I’m not entirely sure why you think you’re in a position to moralise at us about the poor, REDRUMed Unborn.