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Should Home Births Be Illegal?

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There's a war going on between midwives and the medical community over the risks of delivering at home--who will win?

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Soon it could be illegal to give birth at home.

Currently, no legislation has been drawn up, but the American Medical Association (AMA) has agreed to back "Resolution 205," a request to support the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) stance that home births are dangerous.

"We are against home births, period," said Gregory Phillips, an ACOG spokesman. He also told ABC that women who give birth outside of a clinical setting are gambling with their newborns' lives.

But there are many who feel women should have the option to give birth at home. In response to "Resolution 205," The American College of Nurse-Midwives issued a statement citing a study published in the British Medical Journal that showed home births are no more dangerous than hospital births.

And some medical professionals who support home births are worried that the effects of the proposed bill will cause insurance companies to drop doctors who oversee midwives. Meanwhile, moms-to-be worry that their basic rights will be taken away.

"Resolution 205" was created on the heels of the recent documentary The Business of Being Born, by former talk show host Ricki Lake, who filmed her third trimester of pregnancy up until the point of giving birth inside her West Village NYC apartment, with the aid of a certified nurse midwife. In the film, Lake is said to subtly criticize the medical community.

And although ACOG insists the decision to ask AMA to support the legislation had nothing to do with Lake, she was mentioned by name in AMA's annual June conference.

Abby Epstein, the film's director, says the documentary has stirred support of home births. "What the film has done is to cause a lot of women to choose midwives over OBs -- especially younger women who've never heard of midwives," said Epstein. "We've received calls from midwives saying that their practices have doubled since our film was released. There's a lot of ego in this -- that one would want to choose a midwife over an MD. It's really a turf war going back 100 years between the medical establishment and midwives."

Do you think home births should be outlawed?


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22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon July 14, 2008, 7:39 AM

I definitely do not think that home births should be outlawed. This film is a must-see for any woman (and man, for that matter) who is about to give birth. It’s really eye-opening to see what the medical field has turned birth into.
I worked with midwives through my whole pregnancy and had a hospital birth that ended in a c-section after 39 hours of labor (obviously a little bit of a disappointment). While my situation needed the hospital and I am very grateful to the doctors, nurses, and above all, my midwives, I think my experience is not the norm. Most pregnancies/births do not need the interventions that many women are receiving today in the hospitals.
Woman have been giving birth to healthy children way before the AMA came along.

Sue July 14, 2008, 11:56 AM

I wouldn’t do it.

ML July 14, 2008, 12:10 PM

Home birth should definitely NOT be outlawed. Study after study of civilized countries, where women still have home birth as often as not, show that planned home birth in an uncomplicated pregnancy is actually safer.

Besides that, this is a free country. It is a violation of my civil rights to say that I cannot give birth in my home. Instead, that I must give birth in a hospital where I must have health insurance or incur astronomical medical bills.

Besides, what happens if I just “accidentally” don’t make it to the hospital? Will I be arrested? My midwife be arrested? Will social services take my baby? The very idea opens a big can or worms…

Anonymous July 14, 2008, 12:34 PM

I don’t think they should be outlawed. However, it would make me really nervous delivering at home if a complication came up with me or the baby. Trying to get to a hospital to get care would waste precious time. We are lucky to live in a country that has medical care available and I personally choose to use it when giving birth.

FREECOUNTRY July 14, 2008, 12:46 PM

I really resent the idea that some organization believes they can tell me how and when to give birth…especially since this same organization has placed dollars over human lives time and time again.

It’s my body, my choice. Period.

SugarPlumFairy July 14, 2008, 1:17 PM

I’m with Freecountry. If I want to give birth in the comfort of my own home, who is anyone to tell me that I can’t?

Charles July 14, 2008, 5:18 PM

If the Democratic Party takes the Executive and the Legislative branches, be prepared to see a LOT of new things made illegal. Yay nanny state!

Anonymous July 14, 2008, 9:11 PM

Up to the day I give birth I can legally have an abortion…granted some states are a bit more restrictive than others.. So if I want to take the chance that my baby might die at home that is my choice too. I wanted to do home birth but my husband was not willing so our first was a c-section because my doctor said the babies head was too big. WRONG… because my second birth was natural and surprise the babies head was a full inch larger and he weighed a pound more. Of course a few days after birth he was hospitalized for a “mysterious” infection he got while in the hospital at birth and we spent the next two weeks and 20,000 dollars trying to keep him alive. My 3rd & 4th were both birthed by my husband in a hospital room with a doctor standing beside him at a cost of nearly 4,000 each plus what insurance paid. Number 5 almost died at birth because the stupid substitute doctor tried to hold my legs together to keep her in long enough for her to find her hypoallerginic gloves. The nurse finally pushed her out of the way and took things into her own hands.. Maybe hospital deliveries should be illegal?

terri hultman July 14, 2008, 9:42 PM

I am blessed to be a hombirth nurse-midwife practicing in Missouri. Homebirth is calming and GOOD for all those involved. The hospitals and doctors are interested only in taking away your rights while making money from your birth experience.
85% of OB’s could care less about how and who you give birth with…..

Nerisis July 14, 2008, 11:36 PM

Homebirth is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it should be outlawed. And if you compare research, hospital births would be a more likely candidate to be outlawed than homebirths. BUT ACOG and the AMA would never admit that. Too bad they’ve lost sight of their purpose - to provide the best health care for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Lee July 15, 2008, 7:53 AM

Of course home births should not be outlawed!! Hospitals are not the best place to have a baby, they play to the insurance companies tune. Women should do their research and know what their body can do and not be totally dependant on drs who are more concerned about a lawsuit.

First trying to outlaw home schooling and now home births. Whats next, making sure every parent has a license?

bizarrogirl July 15, 2008, 10:02 AM

Making homebirth illegal would be a horrific infringement on our liberty and personal rights.

Anonymous July 16, 2008, 7:19 AM

Why, in the United States of America, can we not have a coordinated maternal health care delivery system that supports pregant women? Why is it that in the greatest nation in the world, mothers are fighting health care providers for the right to have access to maternity care?

Northwoods Doula July 18, 2008, 8:46 PM

It’s too bad that ACOG and AMA are so insistent on vilifying homebirth, especially since a growing body of research shows that homebirth is a safe, cost-effective option for many low-risk women. ACOG should take a long, hard look at why more and more women are choosing homebirth and work towards making the hospital environment safer and more mother-baby friendly. That way, women who are not candidates for homebirth can still have a safe, empowering birth with minimal interventions

cristi July 18, 2008, 9:57 PM

No, it’s a womans right to choose. I had a safe and beautiful homebirth and I wish all woman could have the amazing experience I had, where they chose to birth.

Michelle July 18, 2008, 11:33 PM

Homebirths should be legal. I had a wonderful home birth and intend to have my next at home. Midwives are the best and have a hundred times more knowledge than OB’s. One of my friends had an Ob and her care was horrible. We answered more questions than her OB gave her.

Besides, we are allowed to do what we want with our bodies…that includes birthing in the safest place on earth..one’s home. Why would I want to bring life into the world in a place that is surrounded with sickness and death such as a hospital.

Anonymous July 21, 2008, 1:05 AM

It’s simple. For every person that doesn’t have their child at a Hospital, thats 50-75K they lose out on. Also, when you give birth at home that gives you the option to report the birth or not.. Something the gov’t doesn’t take to kindly to. Its a step towards control, pure and simple.

anonymours December 18, 2008, 5:36 PM

Home births should be legal. I wouldn’t never do it, but women have been giving birth to babies at home for centuries before hospitals, epidurals, OB, etc. It should be the woman’s choice. Giving birth is a natural part of life, no matter who it is done at, and a woman’s body is made to undergo everything that happens during delivery. If it was that dangerous and so many complications occur during home deliveries then the human race wouldn’t have made it this far. I really respect those women who choose this kind of birthing procedure.

Natural Nurture April 14, 2009, 3:45 PM

If anything it should be our Industrialized Medical Model of birth that should be OUTLAWED….it is what what paves the path post partum depression and the Pharmacy.

LOOK at the stats on infant mortality…we are near the top in North America…it is frightening when third world countries beat us at supposedly ‘our own game’ of high tech birth and modern medical heroics.

IT is also sad when our OBGYN’s and gods in green, receive more education on how to avoid a malpractice suit, how to negociate a policy and lease a luxury auto…BUT not how to turn a breech baby…with out a knife!

When 98% of babies are born in hosptial and 90% of babies and moms meet for their first and vital initiation… under the influence of a drugged stupor.. is it any wonder our birth bond is broken … then further…our health suffers as a result of obfuscated nursing … the ‘perfect natural latch’ of innate natural knowing coupled with natural birth under the natural dopamines of oxytocin and prolactin.

When over 33% of babys’ first glimpse of the new world… is a scalpel and their mothers blood….post traumatic stress moderates our behaviour and creates the dominant headlines that plaque our media and minds. The higher a c-section rate and the higher the aggressiona and violence.

When the divorce rate is 60% and the nuclear families are ‘blowing up’….as it is in America…

IT IS TIME TO OUTLAW INDUSTRIALIZED BIRTH!

aerialla April 23, 2009, 6:28 PM

I don’t care either way on an outlaw. My comment is thank goodness for hospitals and a midwife with great comman sense. There is no way in heck you could get me to have child birth now at home. My 10 year old daughter wound up in the NIC unit because she wasn’t breathing on her own after being born. She was turning blue and had to be given oxygen immediately or she would have died. If we would have had a home birth that I wanted and we planned almost up to delivery my child would have died. I’m not sorry that my child’s life is more precious to me than a so called “calming” experience. I was also lucky enough to get an epidural for my second and I’ll never do natural again.


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