Physician Group Seeks to Outlaw Home Birth: Is Jail for Moms Next?

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Physician Group Seeks to Outlaw Home Birth: Is Jail for Moms Next? I recently returned from screenings of Orgasmic Birth in London, Glasgow, and Graz, Austria, as well as talks about the film in Paris and at the International Confederation of Midwives Congress in Glasgow, Scotland where over 3500 midwives from more than 100 countries gathered and shared research and knowledge.   It was wonderful to hear first hand the growing body of research  that validates and supports a midwifery model of maternity care in collaboration with physicians and other health care providers and offers women and their babies the best outcomes and lower costs in maternity care.  In the UK not only is there a long history of midwifery care, but also support of a woman’s right to choose where she will give birth.  You can imagine what a shock it was to read, less than a week after returning home that : “at its annual meeting last weekend, the American Medical Association (AMA) had adopted a resolution to introduce legislation outlawing home birth, and potentially making criminals of the mothers who choose home birth with the help of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs).   The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the British equivalent of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, (ACOG),  supports the increased provision of the home birth option for women. This groups joint statement with the Royal College of Midwives begins: “The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) support home birth for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman’s likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby.” Using the same body of scientific information, why do the British doctors conclude that home birth with a midwife is a safe choice with “considerable benefits” while the American doctors conclude that it should be outlawed?  Read the data for yourself:  At its meeting, The AMA adopted three new resolutions concerning home birth and midwifery care,  that do not directly address the issue, but leave the door dangerously open to criminalizing women for making choices they consider best for themselves, their babies and their families.  “It’s unclear what penalties the AMA will seek to impose on women who choose to give birth at home, either for religious, cultural or financial reasons, or just because they didn’t make it to the hospital in time,” said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives 2008 campaign. “What we do know, however, is that any state that enacts such a law will immediately find itself in court, since a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution.”  Read the Big Push for Midwives press release that includes the above statement and more on the subject  How have we reached a place where women are having cesareans, major abdominal surgery for birth, a normal life event, at a national rate above 30%, with some regions above 50% and even 60%?  The data demonstrate an increase in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity when c/sec rates rise by 15% or more.  Clearly a practice  of c/sec at 30% is not supported by the data and is not in the best interest of women and their babies.  Yet ACOG and the AMA have not issued any statement on this!  The data clearly show that home birth for low-risk women with a midwife is safe and reduces the risk of many unnecessary and overused routines and techniques that have become common in American hospitals today.  Why do we ignore the data on safety for mothers and babies?  The ability to make informed choices, to have access to research to guide best practices, is a human right, a woman’s right.  It is a very sad day today to see this right being eroded based on power, politics, in the end its hard not to feel that the real subject is money.   Please let your voice be heard on these issues.  We must rise up together to allow all women and men to have the right to choose where and with whom they will birth their babies.  Two campaigns I would encourage you to visit and consider donating to are: Childbirth Connection For the past 90 years, Childbirth Connection has been dedicated to improving maternity care for all women and their families through research, education and advocacy. But our newest initiative – Maternity Quality Matters – is taking our work to the next level. This exciting and far-reaching effort focuses on health policy as a core strategy for closing the gaps in quality and raising the bar for better maternity care  Big Push for Midwives Campaign   This first initiative of the National Birth Policy Coalition (NBPC)  is focused on increasing access to the Midwives Model of Care in all settings, as well as supporting legislative initiatives that promote the autonomous practice of professional midwives, which includes Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs).  I am pleased our film is complete and starting to be seen around the world, adding to the discussion of all that is possible during childbirth.  The time for action is now.  Our Educational use Orgasmic Birth DVD’s come with a booklet to help you end each screening with steps to action.  Coming soon a Take Action component to our web site.   You can make a difference.  

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