Here’s how precarious women’s birthing rights are, even in New York City: when Bellevue hospital shut down its midwife-run birth center, women — particularly women with low incomes — lost one of the most supportive places in the city to give birth: the C-section rate there was less than 4%.
Then, in April, when St. Vincent’s hospital closed entirely, nearly all of the home birth midwives lost their legal right to practice. That’s because the state requires that every midwife have a written “practice agreement” with a physician or hospital, and St. Vincent’s was practically the only one willing to sign.
The agreement is a piece of paper that midwives and advocates argue doesn’t mean very much — their professional standards already require that they have “back up” in place to transfer clients who need advanced medical care. But without this piece of paper, the midwives are now effectively illegal. Advocates are trying to change the law, and the New York Times reports that “a week ago, a bill that would repeal that requirement breezed through Assembly and Senate committees, and its champions expected it to pass the full Legislature within days. Then it hit heavy opposition from the American Congress [formerly "College"] of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.” The professional group’s reasoning? It would allow the midwives to “expand their turf and directly compete with doctors.”
And that’s not all: “This legislation…has the ability to pave the way for midwives to open their own independent birthing centers,” said ACOG.
Where will it end?? If more midwives were able to practice, more women would have access to out-of-hospital birth, and there would be fewer cesareans, fewer related complications, and less cost to taxpayers. There should really be a law…