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.