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Giving Birth in a 'Hostile Environment'

Authors: Maria Fannin*, University of Bristol
Topics: Gender, Medical and Health Geography, Migration
Keywords: birth, sanctuary, healthcare, maternity, pregnancy, immigration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2012, the UK government’s Home Office, under the leadership of then Home Office Secretary Theresa May, outlined a series of policies aimed, in May’s words, at creating a ‘really hostile environment for illegal migration.’ Formalised in subsequent pieces of legislation on immigration in 2014 and 2016, these policies sought to implement a range of practices aimed at reducing the number of migrants living in the UK who had not been granted legal right to remain. The policy also created new procedures aimed at identifying those without legal right to remain. Measures were put in place to restrict migrants’ ability to access education, rental accommodation, driving licenses, bank accounts and healthcare. This paper focuses on a local UK project aimed at resisting the hostile environment policy and the vulnerability faced by pregnant and birthing women navigating ‘hostile healthcare’ by accompanying women through their pregnancies and births. It explores the connections between the work of the midwives, doulas, birth companions, and activists involved in this project to the theological and radical social justice roots of accompaniment as political practice.

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