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An installation and performance piece addressing the U.S.’s high rates of maternal mortality, postpartum PTSD, and obstetric abuse.
An installation and performance piece addressing the U.S.’s high rates of maternal mortality, postpartum PTSD, and obstetric abuse.
51 backers pledged $5,146 to help bring this project to life.

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$5,146

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WE DID IT! We reached our goal and hit $5,000. I am so thankful for everyone’s contributions. This experience has been incredibly rewarding on so many levels, and I am so grateful and humbled by everyone’s support. We have set a new STRETCH GOAL at $6,000.  These funds will go towards the full production of the project, including 800 yards of fabric and 2000 yards of trim that I already purchased prior to the Kickstarter.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of the love and support and donations.  I am so excited to start sewing the gowns and to perform MOTHER'S RIGHT on September 7th in Chicago.

MOTHER’S RIGHT is a conceptual installation and performance piece that addresses the United States' high rates of maternal mortality, postpartum PTSD, and obstetric abuse. Artist Michelle Hartney is sewing 1,200 hospital gowns—one for every mother who died in childbirth in America in 2013. The fabric will be hand silk-screened to look like hospital-gown fabric, but the designs are composed of tiny drawings she created of the plant derivatives of the drugs that have been used on laboring women for the past 150 years—many to the detriment of women and children.

PERFORMANCE

For the performance, several pairs of women will stand facing each other, folding the handmade gowns into triangles—similar to the way the American flag is folded at the funeral of a solider. The traditional flag-folding ceremony includes twelve symbolic folds, with the ninth fold symbolizing womanhood. These custom-made hospital gowns have been cut to a length where the fabric stops on the ninth fold. The folded gowns represent not only the 1,200 women who died during childbirth in the U.S. in 2013, but also the women who have suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of obstetricians and nurses—and for the increasing number of women who are being diagnosed with postpartum PTSD after giving birth. The first performance is scheduled for Labor Day of this year, in collaboration with the annual “Rally to Improve Birth” campaign—held on September 7th in over 100 cities across America. The Chicago performance will happen on the grounds of Chicago’s civic heart, the Richard J. Daley Center.

The 2015 focus for the project will be at community venues, with 2016 activating more art and culture locations for installations and performances. Your support will help make both initiatives a reality.

WHY THIS TOPIC IS IMPORTANT

The U.S. spends three times more money on childbirth than Great Britain, yet our maternal mortality rate is over three times higher. According to the World Health Organization, since 1995, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has increased 250%. Among these numbers, African American women are four times more likely to die during childbirth than Caucasian women. The U.S.'s maternal mortality rate is ranked at the top of all developed countries globally. In 2013, eight countries reported an increase in maternal mortality rates: Afghanistan, Belize, El Salvador, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Seychelles, South Sudan, and the United States—which was the only developed country on the list.

In addition, many U.S. women are victims of obstetric abuse. When a woman enters a hospital to deliver a baby, often her right to informed consent is thrown out the window. Women are verbally abused, denied food, forced into having their perineum cut, are forcibly restrained during labor, and even forced into court ordered cesarean sections. Fear mongering, “dead baby” threats, and bullying are used to force women into frighteningly common unnecessary interventions that are not backed by medical research.

This often leads to a “cascade of interventions,” which many times results in an emergency cesarean section, that otherwise would have been unnecessary. Currently, one in three women in the U.S. gives birth via cesarean sections. The World Health Organization suggests that the best outcomes for both women and babies will result from a drastically lower cesarean section rate of no higher than 10-15%.  Reported by the birth rights organization Improving Birth, “over 40% of U.S. hospitals have mandatory surgery policies for women with prior cesareans, 60% of U.S. women are not allowed to eat or drink during labor, and 76% of women are not allowed out of bed when in labor.”

According to Improving Birth, evidence-based care is defined as “care that’s based on best science and individual needs—not arbitrary opinion, hospital tradition, or profit-based policies.” These forced and often unnecessary, non-evidence based interventions can lead to postpartum PTSD and postpartum depression.  In two recent studies, one published by researchers at Montreal’s McGill University and another performed at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel, it was found that one in three women suffers from some elements of PTSD after giving birth, and PTSD is diagnosed in 3-7% of laboring women. Below is a table created by Rebecca Dekker, Phd, RN, APRN, that clearly lays out information about routine vs. evidence-based care in the U.S..

Awareness is my goal. Awareness of our country's high maternal mortality rate, postpartum PTSD, and obstetric abuse. MOTHER’S RIGHT is not about placing blame nor judgment. It is not about options of cesarean sections vs. epidurals vs. natural childbirth vs. home births. It is about human rights. Please support this project so we can bring awareness to what is happening to women in hospitals every day, across America.

MOTHER’S RIGHT KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN REWARDS

$10 Level

Your name will be listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

$15 Level

You will receive a copy of Home/Birth: A Poemic, a beautifully written book about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and womanhood, which was born from a collaboration between Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg, in addition to your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website. This incentive was generously donated by the authors of the book.

$25 Level

You will receive a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, in addition to your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

$50 Level

You will receive a set of ten, lined correspondence cards custom-made by Michelle Hartney, in addition to a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, as well as your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

$75 Level

You will receive a signed 8x10 inch print of the limited edition installation drawing Michelle Hartney created for this project, in addition to a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, as well as your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

$100 Level

You will receive a sterling silver MOTHER’S RIGHT necklace. These necklaces are handmade by Michelle Hartney, and are small versions of the hospital gowns being made for the performance piece and installation. Each necklace was created by carefully folding a small sheet of sterling silver into nine folds, creating a layered triangle, which mimics the hospital gowns that will be folded nine times during the performance piece. Each pendant hangs on a twenty inch sterling silver chain, comes with a card about the project, and makes a wonderful gift for mothers. You also will receive a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, as well as your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

$200 Level

You will receive all of the above items in addition to a 6x6 inch round framed piece of the silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project.

$500 Level

All of the above items, in addition to your name (or the name of someone you choose) being sewn into one of the gowns that will be used for the MOTHER’S RIGHT performance piece and installation at the September 7 “Rally to Improve Birth” gathering at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago.

$1000 Level

In addition to all of the above gifts, you will receive an installation of ten MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns. The opportunity to buy pieces of artwork that are part of the large conceptual installation and performance piece will only be offered for this Kickstarter fundraiser. The installation will come with a signed certificate of authenticity and is only offered in an edition of 10.

$5000 Level

In addition to all of the above gifts, your name or company name will be included as the Project Sponsor in all the marketing, PR, social media, and promotion of the project, with the top three levels of support distinguished as Great Grand Matron, Grand Matron, and Matron.

CASE STUDIES

The New York Times reported last year that a New York woman sued Staten Island University Hospital after her doctor forced her into a cesarean section, her third, after telling her that if she delivered vaginally she would “be committing the equivalent of child abuse and that her baby would be taken away from her.”

• Last year, Jennifer Goodall of Cape Coral Florida was hoping to avoid her fourth cesarean section but her doctor refused to allow her to delivery vaginally, and told her he intended to report her to the Department of Children and Family Services, seek a court order to perform surgery, and to perform cesarean surgery on her “with or without [her] consent” if she came to the hospital.

Kelly, a 27-year-old pregnant Californian, was subjected to a forced episiotomy despite her specific request to forgo the procedure. Neither she, nor her baby, was in distress. Having told her nurse that she had been raped and sodomized twice in her life, Kelly asked that the hospital staff explain each step of the process, and to be gentle with her. Her doctor angrily told Kelly that her baby’s head was too big and her vagina was too small, and cut her twelve times with his scissors. Kelly kept begging not to be cut but he did not stop. The entire experience was filmed, and after repeated complaints to the hospital went unanswered; Kelly shared this traumatic video with Improving Birth. She searched for an attorney to take her case, but failed to find a lawyer willing to help. To learn more about this human rights violation and view this video, please visit Improving Birth.

*Please note that this video is very graphic and can be a trigger for anyone suffering from PTSD or victims of sexual or obstetric violence.

REFERENCES

Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Human Rights Failure

Refusals Cut Options After C-Sections

World Health Organization: Maternal Mortality

Post-traumatic (childbirth) stress disorder

American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World

Birth By The Numbers

Maternal Death in the United States: A Problem Solved or a Problem Ignored?

Improving Birth

Health Study Raises Concerns That Pitocin May Harm Babies

'I was not allowed': the words that steal our birth power

SPECIAL THANKS

MOTHER’S RIGHT and Michelle Hartney are supported by AKArt—an art advisory agency + curatorial platform, providing creative arts strategy, programming, events, partnerships, marketing, PR + sales. AKArt is a resource for the global creative community. AKArt.com

Special thanks to Ola Kapusto and Robert Saywitz for their work on creating the MOTHER’S RIGHT logo.


Music for the MOTHER’S RIGHT video by The 00-Ray

Risks and challenges

Aside from any production issues related to printing or sewing that could result in a loss of fabric yardage, no other current challenges have been identified, and we look forward to developing this project to support the human rights of mothers in the United States.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Your name will be listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    You will receive a copy of Home/Birth: A Poemic, a beautifully written book about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and womanhood, which was born from a collaboration between Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg, in addition to your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website. This incentive was generously donated by the authors of the book.

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    You will receive a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, in addition to your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You will receive a set of ten, lined correspondence cards custom-made by Michelle Hartney, in addition to a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, as well as your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    You will receive a signed 8x10 inch print of the limited edition installation drawing Michelle Hartney created for this project, in addition to a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, as well as your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    You will receive a sterling silver MOTHER’S RIGHT necklace. These necklaces are handmade by Michelle Hartney, and are small versions of the hospital gowns being made for the performance piece and installation. Each necklace was created by carefully folding a small sheet of sterling silver into nine folds, creating a layered triangle, which mimics the hospital gowns that will be folded nine times during the performance piece. Each pendant hangs on a twenty inch sterling silver chain, comes with a card about the project, and makes a wonderful gift for mothers. You also will receive a personal thank you note from the artist, with a piece of the hand silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project sewn onto it, as well as your name being listed as a donor on the MOTHER’S RIGHT project page on Michelle Hartney's website and on AKArt Advisory’s website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    You will receive all of the above items in addition to a 6x6 inch round framed piece of the silk-screened fabric from the gowns used in this project.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    10 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All of the above items, in addition to your name (or the name of someone you choose) being sewn into one of the gowns that will be used for the MOTHER’S RIGHT performance piece and installation at the September 7 “Rally to Improve Birth” gathering at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    In addition to all of the above gifts, you will receive an installation of ten MOTHER'S RIGHT gowns. The opportunity to buy pieces of artwork that are part of the large conceptual installation and performance piece will only be offered for this Kickstarter fundraiser. The installation will come with a signed certificate of authenticity and is only offered in an edition of 10.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    In addition to all of the above gifts, your name or company name will be included as the Project Sponsor in all the marketing, PR, social media, and promotion of the project, with the top three levels of support distinguished as Great Grand Matron, Grand Matron, and Matron.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)