Access to homebirth in NYC put at risk by closing of St. Vincent’s hospital

For a few months now, news has been circulating that St. Vincent’s, a Catholic hospital in NYC’s Lower East Side West Village was facing closure due to crippling debt.

It’s a Catholic hospital, which means no abortion procedures, no emergency contraception, and probably some other shitty anti-choice practices as well.

But it’s also one of the best hospitals for birth in NYC. Not only has St. Vincent’s been the back up hospital for most NYC home birth midwives, it’s also done a lot over the last year and a half to reduce c-sections and improve conditions. Doulas, midwives and VBACs were supported by the labor and delivery ward there.

Well now it seems the closing is definite.

It’s not just NYC that facing this kind of problem–in Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital is also facing potential closure. It’s a hospital that serves many un and under-insured patients in the Miami area, and also has relationships with midwives.

For a movement that wants to get birth out of the hospital, you’d think we’d be happy to have hospitals closing. But we need hospitals as back-ups for home and birthing center births. Also why is it always the birth friendly hospitals and centers that get shut down? I wonder if not doing enough c-sections is bad for the profit margins.


If you want to take action in NYC, check out Choices in Childbirth for petitions and actions.

8 thoughts on “Access to homebirth in NYC put at risk by closing of St. Vincent’s hospital

  1. kate April 13, 2010 / 5:46 pm

    Thanks so much for bringing attention to this important (and sad) event — it’s SUCH a loss for the NYC birthing community. I guess the next steps are demanding that another hospital steps up and fills this void and also, turning to legislation to revise requirements around written practice agreements.

  2. MomTFH April 13, 2010 / 9:18 pm

    Sorry about St. Vincent’s. I’ve heard good things about St. Luke’s. Can it take up some of the slack? I’m thinking about St. Luke’s as a residency site.

    As for University of Miami, I don’t think it is going to close. It is associated with a major private university and medical school, and it’s the only public hospital in Miami. It’s a financial disaster right now, especially after the Haitian crisis (they sent a lot of practitioners and supplies, and received a lot of transfers), but I think they will find some way to dig out.

    I don’t know of them being particularly supportive of midwives any time recently, at least not homebirthing midwives. They do train CNMs and ARNPs there. They used to have a birthing center and even did some research on home-like birth, but that was in the 80s. Their midwife friendly chief has been gone for at least a decade, and their cesarean rate is over 50%.

    But, they do have a family planning center, with abortions up to 20 weeks.

  3. Susan Peterson April 30, 2010 / 8:50 pm

    I think you should consider that there is a connection between respecting life and respecting birth!

    And I don’t think you should use the term “back alley birth” for births attended by a woman’s husband or a friend who has been to a few births. Back alley abortions were criminal, dangerous, and painful, and done to profit from women’s fear and desperation. None of this applies to a birth outside of the official medical system. It is just birth.

    I had two births attended by direct entry midwives before those were legal anywhere, and three at which my husband was the only other adult present. (For one of them he just barely woke up in time to catch the baby!) This was my only choice for a homebirth as a woman who had had a previous C section; the CNM’s who did home births would not accept me. There was nothing wrong with any of these births. They were just births. In my front bedroom. Nothing back alley about it!

    Susan Peterson

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