Home birth in Australia may soon be illegal

New legislation in Australia that requires all midwives to be insured may make home birth illegal and inaccessible.

From News.Com.Au:

Under the draft Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, released last week, a midwife cannot be registered unless she has insurance.

But with insurance companies and the Government so far refusing to include homebirths in the indemnity scheme, midwives will face being de-registered if they attend a homebirth.

Via Citizens for Midwifery.

This is really terrible and this insurance squeeze often effectively makes midwifery illegal/inaccessible in the US too.

Help WNYC improve childbirth coverage

I got an email recently from a WNYC (NYC public radio) analyst about their new Public Insight Network. This seems like their attempt to really tap into citizen journalism and the expertise of the general public.

Housing. Transportation. Crime. Politics. The latest news from your borough – or your block. Whatever’s on your mind, WNYC needs your knowledge and experience to help our news programs stay connected to the issues that concern you. The Public Insight Network is a group of people from all walks of life who inform our news coverage.

You can help make our news coverage even stronger by joining WNYC’s Public Insight Network.

Or, you can share what you know about a subject we’re looking into:

  • Are you in favor of the plan to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws?
  • What special New York place would you landmark?
  • What’s driving the home birth movement in New York?
  • What’s news in your borough?
  • Are we a “nation of cowards” when it comes to talking about race?
  • What’s your personal connection to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

We promise that access to personal information shared with us will be restricted to a small group of journalists. The journalists may work for WNYC or for national programs like Marketplace and American RadioWorks. That means no spam, no marketing and no requests for donations as a result of signing up.

Here’s How It Works

As we look into various subjects, we will e-mail you and ask you to tell us about your experiences. If we’re looking into a medical issue, we’ll seek insight from doctors, nurses and patients who have direct experience with that issue. If we’re looking into education, we’ll talk to teachers and administrators as well as parents with school-age children. Your work, education and life experience, even your hobbies, give you knowledge and insight.

One of our Producers will pass on this knowledge to our reporters and editors. Network sources may reveal new angles on the stories we’re covering or may provide us with entirely new ideas. Reporters may follow up with you for quotes and comments for broadcast or online discussions.

As a Public Insight Network source, you can expect to receive an e-mail no more than once a month. If you don’t have knowledge about a particular topic, we’ll ask you to forward the message on to someone who does or simply delete it.

You can sign up here.

Independence Day Midwives Pushdrive

From the Big Push for Midwives:

Big Push Campaign Launches the 2008 “Independence Day Midwives PushDrive”

Since the American Medical Association (AMA) voted in June to outlaw home birth, we are doubling our efforts to advocate for freedom of birth options for our nation’s mothers and families.

While the AMA and the American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) are likely to back a forceful lobbying operation in Statehouses from coast-to-coast in the months to come, we are P-U-S-H-I-N-G back … building state-of-the-art advocacy campaigns toward successful regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) … helping our state member groups to stand up together, united for safe and legal birth choices.

Why so urgent?

Beyond this David-and-Goliath struggle, we face a critical problem in our society. Nearly 1 in 3 American women are going through major surgery to give birth, but only a fraction of those women would be considered “high risk.” Yet, in spite of the lack of medical necessity for many such cases, the most frequently performed surgery in the U.S. is the cesarean section at 1.3 million surgeries per year. Given present trends, our nation is headed for a staggering 40-50% cesarean surgery rate.

For many reasons, this newly emerging health policy issue is urgent, and some go so far as to say that the civil rights of pregnant women are being disregarded … that mothers and their families are not being fully informed nor adequately supported in their quest for maximal results with minimal interventions.

What is the Big Push for Midwives Campaign?

The Big Push for Midwives Campaign is the first initiative of the National Birth Policy Coalition (NBPC). We play a critical role in building a new model for the delivery of U.S. maternity care at the local and regional levels. At the heart of this plan is the Midwives Model of Care, based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.

Through local and national media attention, public education and coalition building, we are creating meaningful consumer protections and a system into which midwives are fully integrated, with increased transparency and accountability for the health and well-being of mothers and babies.

You can help the Big Push for Midwives Campaign stay in top pushing-for-birth-independence form!

Just as the research shows that food and water should not be withheld from laboring women during their marathon-like efforts in birth, our Caring Campaign Midwives remind us that we need nourishment for this journey to ensure we can perform our most critical functions this month.

We must raise $25,000 in the month of July to pay for the tools, staff and resources necessary to deliver consistent and well-executed communications and collaborate among our geographically dispersed teams.

Please show your leadership on national health issues and your willingness to support our innovative approach to rehabilitating our U.S. maternity care system. Please consider contributing immediately to our campaign in any amount that is feasible. $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, or even more.

We so appreciate any amount! Donate here

American Medical Association passes resolution to outlaw homebirth

Unfortunately, this is not surprising.

Maternity care is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States,” said Steff Hedenkamp, Communications Coordinator for The Big Push for Midwives. “So it’s no surprise to see the AMA join the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in its ongoing fight to corner the market and ensure that the only midwives able to practice legally are hospital-based midwives forced to practice under physician control. I will say, though, that I’m shocked to learn that the AMA is taking this turf battle to the next level by setting the stage for outlawing home birth itself—a direct attack on those families who choose home birth, who could be subject to criminal prosecution if the AMA has its way.

The Big Push for Midwives has released this story (the above text is from their press release). What people tend to forget is that the American Medical Association is a professional association, not a scientific or medical (and therefore unbiased) organization.

It’s hard to see this as anything other a business ploy to further dominate (and secure) their place in the market. With how expensive childbirth is, it’s a lucrative market.  This mode of business-oriented thinking has dominated the attempt to push out midwives since the beginning of obstetrics. What’s missing here? Perhaps what is best for the mother? Just a thought.

Fire displaces hundreds in Mt. Pleasant

While this is not particularly birth related, it definitely falls into the social justice arena when so many people are affected. Read more about the fire on my post at Feministing and donate some money if you are able.

Work for an awesome org–National Advocates for Pregnant Women

I’ve talked about the National Advocates for Pregnant Women quite a bit, as their conference was a big part of the synergy that led me to create this blog. Well they are hiring folks! So if you want the opportunity to work for a great organization that does legal advocacy on behalf of pregnant women–check out the listings.

Good news for Missouri Midwives!

News from Missouri Midwives Supporters
CONTACT:  Mary Ueland (417) 543-4258, better_birth@yahoo.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Midwives Licensure Bill Passes Missouri Senate Committee
Comprehensive bill will decriminalize practice of midwifery, and license and regulate midwives
(Jefferson City, Mo.) – Midwives advocates across Missouri and the nation today celebrated the passage of Senator John Loudon’s (R, Chesterfield) midwifery licensure bill, SB 1021, from the Missouri Senate Committee on Pensions, General Laws and Veteran’s Affairs.  The long-anticipated legislation would decriminalize the practice of midwifery in Missouri and establish a board to license and regulate Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs).

The committee voted 5-1 before a hearing room packed with citizens from across the state, many of whom represented families who wish to choose a legal midwife to assist them during childbirth.  Committee members combined the bill with SB870, a repeal of the midwifery provision in current statute.  The resulting committee substitute is a comprehensive piece of midwifery legislation.  

“Missouri needs legal midwives,” said Debbie Smithey, President of Missouri Midwives Association.  “This bill will license and regulate the midwives whose legal status is currently in question before the Supreme Court.”
Currently, Certified Nurse-Midwives, who work predominantly in hospital settings, are licensed and regulated in all 50 states, while Certified Professional Midwives, who work in out-of-hospital settings, are licensed and regulated in 24 states, with legislation pending in an additional 20 states, Missouri among them. 

CPMs’ training as specialists in out-of-hospital maternity care qualifies them as essential providers during disasters in which hospitals become inaccessible or unsafe for laboring mothers and newborn babies. In addition, this bill will ensure that all babies born outside of the hospital undergo state-mandated newborn screenings and are provided with legal and secure birth certificates.

“We applaud the committee for their clear show of support for health care freedom in childbirth,” said Laurel Smith, President of Friends of Missouri Midwives, a statewide network of thousands of Missouri homebirth families,  “The parents of our state have been deprived of the freedom to choose a legal midwife specifically trained in out-of-hospital maternity care for too long.  We look forward to seeing this issue debated in the full Senate and anticipate the day when professional midwives are legally recognized and able to serve women freely.”

Missouri is part of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign
Media inquiries should be directed to Mary Ueland at (417) 543-4258, better_birth@yahoo.com.
For more info:
Friends of Missouri Midwives
Missouri Midwives Association
Show-Me Freedom in Healthcare
Free the Midwives
The Big Push for Midwives Campaign

Thanks to Steff for the info.

Thank you Ricki Lake

Thank you Ricki Lake for bringing so much attention and media to the homebirth issue. I haven’t yet seen The Business of Being Born (I’m seeing it tomorrow so I will report back) but it certainly has gotten some significant attention in the press.

On Good Morning America they had a segment yesterday on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) births, or unattended homebirths. You can watch here. It’s a really good segment, until the a-hole doctor goes off an a fetal personhood tirade.

“What women need to appreciate is that the few hours of labor are the most dangerous time during the entire lifetime of the soon-to-be-born child,” said Dr. Frank Chervenak, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. “Because of this, I would argue … all soon-to-be born children have a right to access immediate Caesarean delivery, and women who are denying this right are irresponsible.”

This kind of thing is EXACTLY why birthing rights activists NEED to work with reproductive rights and abortion rights people. These kinds of arguments, which basically imply that the unborn fetus has rights that trump the needs, desires and even health of the mother. Also framing childbirth as the most dangerous hours of an unborn childs life is problematic to say the least. And this guy isn’t even a pediatrician! He’s an OB-GYN. Oh sorry, I thought their concern was supposed to be the MOTHER. Nevermind how much people think medical interventions are hurting fetuses and mothers.

There was also a review in the NYTimes of the movie, which is super positive and supportive of home birth! That’s exciting. Also here you can see the trailer of another forthcoming film about homebirth in NYC.

News Round Up

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but I’m taking advantage of a day off to catch up on the news. Enjoy!

Lower back tattoos interfere with epidurals? Doctors say no.

Story of a water birth in West Texas, and another article about water birth.

Midwife assisted births on the rise.

The Today Show online investigates alternative pain mediation techniques.

80% of people in the UK oppose a bill which would remove the legal requirement that a doctor consider the child’s need for a father when performing IVF procedures.

More love for midwives in Wisconsin.

Opinion piece about the financial waste caused by intervention and over-hospitalization of birthing women.

43% of women in California breastfeed exclusively.

One hospital in Houston considers outlawing VBACs (vaginal births after cesarean sections) completely.

Study says that curvy women live longer and have smarter children.

NYTimes article discusses the declining enrollments in childbirth classes.