A prominent hospital in Brisbane, Australia has put an end to any presence of pro photographers during the birth of babies. This has led to outrage among some in the photography community and a petition to end the hospital's stance.
This week, the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital has both formalized and reiterated its stance that no professional photographers can be present in the operating room while doctors and nurses are working to safely deliver the baby. Explaining the decision, a hospital spokesperson said:
Complications are rare, but can arise very quickly during a birth, so it’s crucial our team can perform their duties with the utmost care and attention, with no other distraction, so they can continue to provide focused care.
However, the decision has been met with outrage, so much so that one woman has organized a petition on change.org in order to reverse the policy. To date, the petition has received more than 10,000 signatures. The creator of the petition, Michelle Palasia, says:
A birth story cannot be documented without the images of your baby entering the world and the emotions experienced by your self and your birth team... To strip families of this powerful tool and leave them with an incomplete story is reprehensible.
But here's where it gets a little murky. According to the hospital spokesperson, fathers are not only allowed to capture the moment a newborn enters the world, but are welcomed to do so should they choose. That's not what Palasia's petition says though. She writes:
This is not just a policy targeted at birth photographers. No photography of your baby entering the world will be permitted...not by your partner, not by your Doula, not by anyone in your birth team!
This quote seems to omit the word "fathers." Whether that's deliberate or not, I don't know, but the hospital seems quite clear in that fathers can take photos in the delivery room, but no one else can.
Personally, I support the hospital's decision. My wife gave birth to our second daughter just eight weeks ago, and there's no way on Earth I wanted to be anywhere near that delivery room, least of all with a camera snap, snap, snapping away inches away from staff as they did their job. Not because I'm squeamish, simply because I wanted 100 percent focus and attention of the doctors and nurses on my wife and their job at hand. The idea of a photographer scurrying hither and thither around the theater room trying to snap the "perfect moment" was something I had absolutely zero interest in and couldn't even countenance, to be honest. The health and safety of my wife and baby were paramount in my thoughts. Nothing else mattered. For the record, my wife felt the same way.
Now, that's just me. Of course there will be varying opinions, and I would love to see a healthy, respectful discussion take place here from all perspectives. What do you think of the hospital's decision and the petition that's followed? I look forward to reading your comments below.