Photographers' Rights: In the Delivery Room

Posted by David Ozanich — 2 Feb 2011


We spend a lot of time talking about photojournalists' rights to document public buildings or political events, but what about photographers' rights in the delivery room? Today, the New York Times examines the growing trend of banning photography while a woman is giving birth.

When Laurie Shifler was expecting her eighth child, she was so upset about a local hospital's new policy restricting photographs of births that she started an online petition. Hundreds of people, near and far, signed it, many expressing outrage that a hospital would prevent parents from recording such a momentous occasion, one that could never be recaptured.

The hospital, Meritus Medical Center, in nearby Hagerstown, bars all pictures and videos during birth -- cellphones and cameras must be turned off -- and allows picture-taking to begin only after the medical team has given permission.


Nationwide, photography and videography have been allowed in many delivery rooms for decades. But in recent years, technology creep has forced some hospitals to rethink their policies as they seek to balance safety and legal protection with the desire by some new mothers to document all aspects of their lives, including the entire birth process.

Personally, I'm glad there are no photos of my birth, but I'm sure many others feel differently. Maybe we need specialized gray cards for the delivery room? As Ms. Shifler says in the article:

"It's my child," she said. "Who can tell me I can take a picture or not take a picture of my own flesh and blood?"

Photo via Corbis Images.

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