In February of this year in the family of 31-year-old resident of St. Petersburg Olga Stepanova was a terrible sorrow in the rapid childbirth killed her newborn daughter.
In this tragedy, which happened in Vitebsk, where the expectant mother came to stay, the Belarusian authorities her immediately and charged. A young woman condemned for birth at home and not in hospital…
“During these months I forgot how to cry,” — says Olga. “Causing death on imprudence” — says the harsh sentence.
Surprisingly, the victim in this high-profile case was first assigned is not the father of the deceased girl, as the representative of the local guardianship.
Was it possible to save the girl? They will be punished doctors who failed to revive her?
And most importantly — what is the impartiality of justice? To leave now without a mother, sentenced to six months in prison, the eldest daughter Olga, who is only two years?..
This question convicted Olga Stepanova addressed directly to the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.
Photo: a frame from the video
“I’m not a sectarian!”
If all these events happened to us, this history would probably have been licked on all the talk shows. In Belarus scandals quieter — however loud the trial of the “home birth” in Vitebsk also discusses the whole country. Same as the recent video of Olga Stepanova, the head of the Republic.
Does the woman the right to birth where and how she wants? Does she have a choice?
Should the state interfere in such intimate processes in the lives of its citizens? And finally, who should be responsible for it if something went wrong?..
“I’m hurt by the fact that in a country where I was born and raised, completely forgotten the concept of honor, conscience, humanity, justice and the rule of law…” — says Olga Stepanova, the native, the camera Belarusian President. Her voice trembling. In the eyes — tears. In the hands — a Teddy bear, which she squeezes as she said, the doctor “ambulance” was clutching the dying girl.
“The doctor held my daughter and kept saying, “Breathe, baby, breathe!” And it was all her resuscitation” again and again Olga.
…On the phone in conversation with me, her voice more confident. Phone — not a camera. Yes, and I’m talking to her from Moscow, not the President.
Photo: a frame from the video
■ ■ ■
The heartbroken woman has had to live four months in jail awaiting trial. Currently at stake is not only her own future but the lives of her family — her husband and eldest daughter, Olga inevitably have to be strong.
In her story so that sentiment has no place. Olga says: “During these months I forgot how to cry”. “Those months” since February 17, 2017, when the death of her youngest daughter. On March 2, two weeks later, against the Russians opened a criminal case under part 1 of article 144 of the criminal code of Belarus “Causing death on imprudence”. Is punished with correctional labor for up to two years or by deprivation of liberty for up to three.
In September Olga have already received their six months in colony-settlement. Four of them she spent in jail before the trial: custody took it, because apparently feared that would flee to Russia. There are still two months. But she does not want to serve because he believes himself not a criminal, and victim.
“My birth was not home. They can happen anywhere and with anyone”, — says Olga.
Olga has two higher education. In his Motherland, Belarus, she received a diploma of the financier, later, in Russia, is a clinical psychologist. In Russia, married and stayed. Husband is a businessman.
It looks nothing like a illiterate fool, having read the Internet and decided to give away the full moon in the bath, and then for years to keep the cord in the fridge. However, the proof of her crimes, and that is what rests Belarusian consequence is that their first daughter Olga also gave birth at home, but in St. Petersburg. Therefore, the second death happened because of arrogance.
“It’s true: girl, I gave birth at home. So I was calmer and more comfortable. But all this time under my window was on duty ambulance with all the necessary specialists and equipment. In 2015 it cost 7 thousand rubles per hour. My husband and I consciously chose this way of birthing, both went to it and prepared for it, the husband even encouraged to take special courses, the newborn child was immediately examined by the neonatologist, my GYN, we had no problems, no complications. In the end, many give birth, and by law it is not prohibited. Neither in Russia, nor in Belarus,” — says she.
Shortly before the new birth, in November last year, Olga came to visit her mother in Vitebsk. Wanted to help her with the eldest daughter Anastasia, which at that time was not even two, but to continue wearing pregnancy Belarus girl most likely was not going to — which is quite natural: if the first births in Russia ended well, it is easier and safer, of course, and the second time to give birth at home. This pregnancy, according to Olga, initially proceeded quite normally.
“Now say that I almost sectarian, which is not consisted on the account and hiding from doctors, I refused to be hospitalized, and I had it bad — but it’s not. I stood up, passed all the necessary tests, but just haven’t decided where I will give birth at home or in the hospital, although at first inclined to believe that this time will be a hospital birth because the baby was breech, and in this case the safest option is caesarean section,” explains Olga.
But on 3 February, the girl turned over. Olga again was doplerometriya — fourth of the month; the study showed that congenital abnormalities no, no suffocation and hypoxia. “And then I began to think about home birth. February 18 was supposed to come with the man that would have solved all the organizational issues. He was skeptical about this medicine and therefore insisted on re-examination in St.-Petersburg”.
Olga Stepanova and her family. Photo: social networks
■ ■ ■
In Belarus, home births are not prohibited. But officially to provide medical help at home, as it falls under the article “Illegal doctoring”, such a risk no wise woman will not go — not that a certified midwife: it faces a real criminal term here since this is not a joke.
So legally remain exclusively with the state labor. The state, and it alone, has a monopoly on it. Even from commercial medical centers do not have such powers. That is, do a home birth there, but to take them to no one — so that’s casuistry.
However, their desire to give birth at home, Olga told local doctors. That was pretty rash, because their testimony is wanted, and nothing else! — built and then the prosecution.
To return to Russia and even to wait for my husband Olga did not have time. Contractions started early. The disclosure went swiftly. The husband was still in St. Petersburg. Grandma was confused. The older girl cried and did not understand what was happening…
In General, everything was not as expected.
I immediately called ambulance, but she rode a mile for 22 minutes. And the bill was on second…
“Doctor emergency personnel acted more than strange, — says Olga. Seeing that the child is in a critical condition, she went into the hallway to call for help because they themselves did not have the necessary resuscitation equipment. It’s like she deliberately shied away from medical care, perhaps fearing that the baby will die in her arms and spoil them statistics. And then slandered me that I was inadequate and let them…”
At city clinical hospital ambulance of Vitebsk, where they brought a newborn, she was immediately hooked to life support machines. In intensive care, the girl was taken on February 17 in 20.28, recorded the death at 21.40. “Lisa was breathing two hours after birth. I think that the doctors lied, stating that she died at home and do nothing. She was breathing when he arrived the first team and when the second intensive therapy; all this time she was alive, you know? Otherwise, it was taken to the morgue! 32 minutes after arriving at the hospital she took the blood by puncture of the heel, and it would have been impossible if she were dead”, like re-living all Olga.
But it was not the most terrible, what she had to go through.
“Apparently, my daughter would not have survived whatever the outcome. She had a serious fetal disorder, incompatible with life mixed acidosis, which triggered a rapid labor, is shown by recent examination, it is in the case,” explains Olga.
All sudmedekspertizy had a few. And, apparently, they are all different. For example, in voiced during the trial the official conclusion it was that the girl died of aspiration — choked amniotic fluid. Otherwise, according to the verdict of the specialists, the child was absolutely healthy, and if he had provided timely medical assistance in the hospital, the tragedy likely could have been avoided.
The Prosecutor also stated categorically that the mother should be punished, as it was his rash actions left the newborn in conditions known to be dangerous to his life. Supposedly, this is stated in the decree of President Lukashenko №18 “On additional measures for state protection of children in dysfunctional families”.
And even the head of the Investigative Committee of Belarus Ivan Noskiewicz in an interview with numerous national media expressed confidence that the court will side with the investigation: “the Mother has repeatedly warned that it can get into a situation where there are difficulties with childbirth. That is why the incident was identified as causing death by negligence”.
In the case entered the state machine — the justification and the arguments of the poor mother has no one listened… The more that the topic is really controversial — a home birth and their consequences; then every uncomplicated ready to contribute their two cents.
…During the announcement of the verdict, which was covered by all Belarusian media, Olga Stepanova kept in a cage, which was guarded by five guards. Not all the homicidal maniacs so seriously “graze”.
“I think that, if not immediately began to make noise and demand an independent examination and just went to Russia and forgot about the incident, this sentence would not be, the thing would just shut down and rewrote all medical documents, — says Olga. But from the beginning I tried to understand what my daughter died? Who is to blame for her death? I demanded that the autopsy be held in Russia, in St. Petersburg. But even a corpse we had only 2.5 months in may”.
The baby was cremated in Belarus. At the funeral of the daughter Olga was not present: the day she was arrested.
“I ruined them with all the statistics — she chuckles bitterly. — Because according to official data, in Belarus — almost zero infant mortality. And it’s not because it is such a great medicine, but because of the fact that in all emergency childbirth just write in the postmortem report that the child was born dead, and the guilt of the medical staff… no Criminal cases of neonatal death is also almost no. And the only one I started to swing right and demand to bring to justice those responsible. So, I gagged”.
The words of Olga Stepanova is not unfounded: in the mail she sends me several articles of the Belarusian Newspapers about the recent tragedies in local hospitals.
Thus, on 13 November in Luban district hospital died baby girl. The reference from the registry office it was written that this baby was born dead too, of course, a bad record, but the proceedings are much less than when the child is just the doctors failed to save.
The first night of September, during childbirth, in the Central district hospital of the Belarusian town Madela killed the other boy. While all studies conducted on the eve of the ultrasound, CTG, showed that the baby was ready for birth. “Get alive, was in a coma, was immediately taken to the intensive care unit. Daughter introduced anesthesia, what happened next, she does not remember”, — told reporters the grandmother of the baby.
In Management of Investigatory Committee of the Gomel region in August of 2017 received statements from two family whose newborn children died in the regional hospital of 23 and 28 July.
In these two cases, which is confirmed by the head of the hospital, pregnant women, as expected, stood on the account in female consultations, gave birth in a public hospital, and all indicators with their children everything should be fine… But something again went wrong.
A flash mob in her defense
Open link after link, noting that almost all dates publications — “fresh”, that is, after the death of his daughter Olga Stepanova. It just so happened that the trouble of our compatriot became the trigger for other similar cases, which fell down suddenly, as from a cornucopia… Not all right, therefore, in the Danish Kingdom.
On their pages in social networks emerging from such tragedies and those who are lucky a little more, confess how sometimes subtly bullied midwives on pregnant women in conventional hospitals, the screams, the curses, the endless “push!”… Women held a flashmob in support of home births. Many of which, as it turns out, dare not from good life, but because it will not be worse. “Women just want to be heard,” wrote one mom.
Words of support have comforted Olga and gave her strength, but the outcome of her case were still unclear.
“When I was arrested, She was still breastfed, and for me it was a shock, because we had never been apart. Because of what happened, she still can’t get over it. Thank God that my husband dropped everything and rushed here all the time while I was in jail, was next to her, but my daughter had thawed again getting used to me.”
Initially, the victim recognized the mother of Olga, i.e. the grandmother of the dead girl. But as she began to walk the chain of command and demand the materials of the criminal case, her status is quickly deprived. A new victim has appointed… representative of the guardianship some Julia Alipova. That is, the representative of the government. Which of the deceased child and in eyes did not see.
But it along with a Prosecutor advocating that the process was behind closed doors, without journalists. Because here “the interests of the affected minors.” Although the accused insisted that it was tried publicly: “there are only affected my interests, and I have nothing to hide”.
And only under public pressure, finally the victim was the girl’s father Oleg.
The Prosecutor asked for Olga year of imprisonment. Six months in prison, four of which she has already served in jail — it was practically a gift from the court and not the sentence, but Olga still has not agreed to accept it.
She is ready to fight to the very end, until its complete justification. More than 150 thousand Russians and Belarusians have signed a petition in defense of this young woman.
“I am the state”
“I’m sure that in Russia, in Moscow or in St. Petersburg, this situation would not have arisen”, — said Olga Stepanova.
And in fact it is very the Belarusian history. The priority of the state over personal. Freedom of choice and who in the end for this freedom will pay.
I remember several years ago I was traveling on business to the Western border of Belarus, in a small village surrounded by blue lakes. It is very beautiful here in the summer and cold in the winter Blizzard.
The heroine of my other articles condemned because she did not fasten his seven year old son’s car seat. Forgot to turn, on 1 September on the nose…
The accident occurred. The boy was hurt. Slightly, but in the hospital I lost feeling in a couple of months. And all this time the mother spent with him. And all this time the Belarusian government has properly subtracted from her salary parts of the huge amount of fine to which it was awarded. In addition to a few hours of community service.
The state was still, in this case, suffers most of all from himself traumatized child. He rarely sees her mother, and she just is no money for oranges and other snacks to the hospital: the family was poor, and the car is a piece of junk and junk, and therefore collapsed on the turn.
But wrong — answer. And spit on all of your life circumstances. The state is always right. Justice won. Who? Mercy and justice?..
“Above the Law can only be Love, above the Law, only Grace, and above Justice, only Forgiveness” — these words of Alexy II does not have legal status. Sorry. Because people are not dry pages of the Criminal code, and sometimes the main thing — do not blindly follow the letter of the law, and to remain human, to remain human beings.
Who needs it now, a Pyrrhic victory of the Vitebsk court… For who can judge a mother losing her child is stronger and more ruthless than she does herself?
…At the end of last week, the Board of Vitebsk regional court still overturned the verdict against Olga Stepanova. Now this case is directed on new consideration with a different composition of the court.
A new hearing date will be determined within the next twenty days. Before the trial, the accused will be under house arrest.
Marina SILKIN, candidate of legal Sciences:
In my opinion, you should split a home birth at the woman’s request and sudden, transient labor. In this case it is from the coordinated work of physicians depends largely on the life and health of women and children.
Legislation of the Republic of Belarus (same as Russia), home births are not prohibited. However, liability in the event of the death of a child in such birth is difficult to establish.
The prosecution of Olga Stepanova, of causing his infant daughter’s death by negligence causes at least bewilderment. Following the logic of the prosecution, Stepanova should have foreseen the possibility of her daughter’s death as a result of their actions, would not their occurrence, but confidently hoped that it will work. But the question arises: how the woman could have foreseen the rapid birth? And she’s hardly even thinking about home birth, refused to fully from the assistance of doctors and midwives.
With his hand in a moment of danger Olga did everything I could, that is, immediately called an ambulance, and now you need to understand how quickly and professionally the work of the doctors in this situation whether their actions are signs of negligence and negligence in the performance of their professional duties, failure of which could result in death of the newborn girl.
Even if she was going to give birth, the doctors has not been canceled — it does not mean that the arrived brigade “first aid” was simply to stand by and watch as a child dies.
In world practice, the law has a different approach to the regulation of home births. Currently, most States are tolerant of the desire of its citizens to depart from the burden outside the hospital environment. Especially from the point of view of insurers is also much more profitable.
At the same time, according to the law, for example, the Czech Republic, health workers are categorically prohibited from providing obstetrics at home under threat of criminal punishment.
In our country, childbirth can take place not only in conditions of state hospitals but in private clinics and with the participation of practising midwives, in contrast to Belarus, at us it is business as usual, bringing a good income.
Childbirth in the tub, solo birthing, generally without the participation of the medical staff, the so-called Lotus birth for every taste and budget.
According to rough estimates done by experts in 2011, we can speak about a thousand births in Moscow in the home. Then in the capital there were about 20 of deaths in newborns.
Check in case of death of the infant is definitely: so how can it be premeditated murder of a newborn mother.
In Russia it would be almost impossible to bring Olga Stepanova to criminal liability for causing death by negligence. The responsibility for the act is also envisaged in article 109 of the criminal code, according to which will be punished to four years in prison. However, judicial practice shows that this provision is most often applied by the courts in respect of persons, undue exercise of their professions, such as doctors, firefighters, police. But not their mom.
No Russian woman, accidentally lost a child in the process of home births, I sat on the dock. First, it is very difficult to prove a causal link between the actions of mother and child death, and secondly, it shall enter into force and the moral aspect, after becoming the involuntary cause of the death of her baby, the woman already punished enough.
However, there are precedents for prosecution of negligent midwives and management of entire commercial maternal schools, practicing new-fangled methods of delivery, and actively inspiring moms to risk not only themselves but also children.
The best in the “MK” – short formal newsletter: subscribe to our channel in the Telegram