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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?


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
cottonlily August 6, 2010, 12:55 PM

If homebirth is deemed illegal what’s next? Will we be forced to have our children’s baby teeth pulled at a dentist office since he has a medical degree? Will we be forced to go to the doctor instead of taking an aspirin because our headache might actually be something more serious? Are we going to live in a country that allows newborns to be dropped on doorsteps legally, but which mandates where those babies are born? There is no study worldwide that even suggests that American hospital births are safer for either mother or infant than assisted homebirths - in fact the opposite is true - and yet we have a much higher infant mortality rate. Why is this even an issue? Government should be looking into the safety of hospital births if anything!

Beth April 12, 2011, 8:55 AM

That is crazy that they want to outlaw home birth. If the midwife is reputable they are very aware of when there is something wrong and more help is needed than what they can provide.

I have had all of my children at home with no problems at all. But also with the knowledge that my midwives knew what they were doing and had my baby’s and my best interest in mind. They would never have risked either one of our lives if it appeared that their was anything wrong.

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