INDEPENDENT NEWS

‘Overripe’ Political Posturing on Childbirth

Published: Wed 16 Oct 2002 03:17 PM
‘Overripe’ Political Posturing on Childbirth
"I notice that nobody politically has noticed that porn star ‘Nikki’ has any rights in relation to her body being filmed during childbirth, and it’s about time somebody looked objectively at what is going on," announced Libertarianz Leader Russell Watkins today as he prepared to do just that.
"Although the proposed film ‘Ripe’ may not appeal to everyone," he says, "the mother has certain rights that have been consistently ignored by posturing politicians on all sides of the House, and I think it’s high time that was changed."
Watkins himself recalls "many a dinner party ruined by host and hostess running and re-running home videos of the birth of their offspring," a trend now thankfully abating, but one he says that reveals that it never been illegal to film a childbirth, or to possess the intellectual property in a film of a childbirth - "it has simply been deeply unfashionable." On that basis however, he says, the filming of Nikki’s childbirth per se should not be illegal.
Further, Nikki is an adult he says, and by virtue of that fact she owns her own body and holds in trust the rights to the body of her child (at least until the child has the capability to exercise those rights himself). In holding those rights, Watkins notes that Nikki must not act criminally against the child, such as beating it, performing illegal sexual activities on it or otherwise being grossly negligent, such as denying it the basics of food and warmth.
"But no one has claimed that Nikki proposes to perform any of these actions," notes Watkins, and he says since many childbirths are widely filmed and the intellectual property in those films either held by the parents or transferred to another for another purpose, it is difficult to envisage how filming a baby as it is being born can conceivably be seen on its own as an abusive act. He says that the concern expressed by most people opposed to the filming is that the recording of the birth will be used, in another context, in a film depicting legal adult sexual activity. "It is the use to which the film is to be put that is the cause of people’s ire," says Watkins, "not the filming itself."
He goes on to say that "having said that however, the owner of the intellectual property in a film of a childbirth has the right to incorporate that footage into any other film which the owner has intellectual property in - whether it be an adult porn film, a commercial, or a documentary about the baby Jesus. Therefore, distasteful though it may be to some, it is difficult to justify using police force to stop the filming of a childbirth just because that film is to be incorporated into a film showing consensual adult sex."
Regarding the question of whether a ‘public’ hospital should permit the filming of the birth Watkins points out "Libertarianz would ultimately privatise all hospitals anyway, in which case we would leave it to the owners of privatised hospitals to set their own rules regarding what activities take place on their premises." Pending such a privatisation however, he says "for the term ‘public’ hospitals to mean anything, the general presumption should be that such hospitals have rules that: are no more onerous than necessary to safeguard the wellbeing of the patients; to enable the hospital to function safely; and to allow fair use of them by the people who pay for them – including presumably the cast and crew of Steve Crow’s film."
The question about whether any particular birth can be filmed would then be a medical decision determined by whether or not it would interfere with the safe conduct of the birth, he says. "In short, as long as the film crew obey the rules necessary for the safe functioning of the hospital, there should be no prohibition on Nikki’s birth being filmed - unless the prohibition has been made for medical reasons."
"The child will apparently suffer no physical harm from the filming and inclusion in the film," notes Watkins in conclusion. "At worst, the child could be ‘distressed’ at some later stage because its birth is part of a recording many people will have seen - but exactly the same can be said for the stars of those home videos that once disrupted our dinner parties, or for those who appear in films distributed for medical purposes.
"However," Watkins says in parting, "any distress Nikki’s child may or may not suffer is as nothing compared to the distress already being suffered by the puritan busybodies who simply cannot accept that somebody should be allowed to do something of which they themselves disapprove." He suggests that anyone feeling distress because of what Nicki and her director propose should "immediately enrol for counselling – and at their own expense! What director, cast and crew of "Ripe’ are doing," he says, "is no one’s business but their own and their potential customers."
Libertarianz believes that instead of meddling in matters about which they have no legitimate business, the state should concentrate instead on protecting those children who demonstrably do have parents who physically and sexually abuse them and deny them the necessities of life. Watkins suggests that perhaps the attentions of the state - and of those assorted busybodies keen to enlist the state’s force in their own Puritanism - should focus instead on the failings of state agencies like CYPS, which daily neglects to respond to the thousands of cases across the country of children actually being malnourished, beaten up, molested and left unsupervised, and is only too keen to waste time and money getting Nikki’s child into its care instead of sorting out its own messes."
"That would be a task well worth a body being busy about," he says.

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