Home Midwifery Now Illegal in Big Apple


They can't make it there, apparently, thanks to guildlike professional licensing laws. Details from the UK Guardian:

Women can not legally give birth at home in the presence of a trained and experienced midwife.

This city of more than 8 million people, with its reputation for being at the cutting-edge of modern urban living, now lacks a single midwife legally permitted to help women have a baby in their own homes. "It's pretty shocking that in a city where you can get anything any hour of the day a person cannot give birth at home with a trained practitioner," said Elan McAllister, president of the New York-based Choices in Childbirth.

The collapse of New York's legal home birth midwifery services has come as a result of the closure two weeks ago of one of the most progressive hospitals in the city, St Vincent's in Manhattan. When the bankrupt hospital shut its doors on 30 April the midwives suddenly found themselves without any backing or support.

There are 13 midwives who practise home births in New York, and under a system introduced in 1992 they are all obliged under state law to be approved by a hospital or obstetrician, on top of their professional training.

St Vincent's was prepared to underwrite their services, but most other doctors and institutions are not, and they now find themselves without the paperwork they need to work lawfully.

Wondering if you can legally hire someone to help you give birth if you want? Check this useful state-by-state chart of the arcane arts' legal status.

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  1. I am reminded of the scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life where the hospital gets the machine that goes “PIng!”.

    1. That’s my favorite machine.

  2. Can we still see a live birth on the jumbotron at Yankee Stadium?

  3. useful state-by-state chart

    They classify “Prohibited by
    Statute” as “Unregulated.” I totally trust them.

    Back alley midwife
    Deliverin’ at high speed
    Back alley midwife

  4. Oh, come on. The New York lawmakers are just looking out for the best interest of the baby. Clearly home births are more risky, right.

  5. The midwifes weren’t taking babies DNA and sending it to the feds like good little slaves.

    They also weren’t buying enough vaccines from big pharma and that is a sin in the monotheist church of big government.

  6. I know several women who have given birth at home using midwifes. And all of them are hippie types. And I am sure most of the yuppie back to earth type women in New York who would use midwives voted for Bloomburg. Case of the nanny state coming back to bite you. If the state can stop someone else from eating transfat, they can stop you from using a midwife.

    1. My libertarian-leaning wife gave birth to our second child at home, attended by a midwife.

      Yes, most of the women I know who have given birth at home are hippie types.

      1. Hippie: Right now we’re proving we don’t need corporations. We don’t need money. This can become a commune where everyone just helps each other.

        Hippie: Yeah, we’ll have one guy who like, who like, makes bread. A-and one guy who like, l-looks out for other people’s safety.

        Stan: You mean like a baker and a cop?

        Hippie: No no, can’t you imagine a place where people live together and like, provide services for each other in exchange for their services?

        Kyle: Yeah, it’s called a town.

    2. “”And all of them are hippie types.””

      And John hates hippies.

      1. Who doesnt?

      2. “I hate hippies. Hippies are fags.”

  7. It is truly amazing, with all the hazards out there, that humanity survived for thousands of years before the invention of the state control commission.

    1. Humanity survived just fine. Individual humans didn’t survive nearly as long, though.

      Amazing that supposed individualists think in such collective terms.

      1. What do you expect? Younger people today can’t figure how we lived without the Internet.

  8. Women should be able to decide for themselves what risks they are willing to assume during childbirth. That said, you’re a moron if you don’t avail yourself of a hospital for this. There’s a reason why few women die during childbirth in the US, and it’s not because of well-trained midwives.

    1. As long as the woman has a complication free birth, a midwife can do it. But if there is a complication, the woman is in a lot of trouble and better hope they can get her to a hospital very quickly. Why anyone would want to take that risk is beyond me.

    2. You might want to do just a teeny weeny bit of research before making that assertion.

      1. The hippie chicks will be out in force over this.

        1. In my experience, homebirth actually includes incredibly varied segments of society. The hippies are a substantial portion, particularly in urban areas, but there is also major interest in homebirthing from libertarian-minded women (me), fundamentalist religious types like evangelicals/Amish/Mennonites, and women who have had iatrogenic complications in hospitals with previous births who turn to homebirths to avoid the same doctor/hospital-caused complications the next time.

          1. But it’s sooooooo much easier to just assume they’re all hippies.

          2. To be fair, these groups overlap. I’ve known some fundamentalist religious hippies, and they were the most likely to have their babies at home by far.

        2. I’m planning a homebirth, because I felt like a prisoner in the hospital. Everything that was done to me and my child was for the convenience of the hospital and the staff. It wasn’t about me and my baby.

      2. Wow, fewer C-sections were “necessary” in home births. You don’t say.

        As the abstract you link to admits, “Some differences may be due to bias,” presumably referring to sampling bias — women in high-risk pregnancies are much less likely to choose home birth.

        1. My point being, a C-section is not something that just comes up during the process of childbirth. If it’s going to be done, it has to be arranged well before going into labor.

          1. Are you saying that all c-sections are planned beforehand? Except for the ones needed for homebirth complications? That is completely ridiculous and flat-out wrong. I’m hoping I just misunderstood you on that one.

            Regarding the bias issue, did you read the part where it said ” A meta-analysis of six controlled observational studies was conducted, and the perinatal outcomes of 24,092 selected and primarily low-risk pregnant women…”? They were already comparing low-risk to low-risk.

        2. Exactly. What happens is that a lot of women plan to do home birth but then go to a hospital if it appears that it is going to be complicated, which is fine. They should be able to do that. But let’s not pretend we don’t need hospitals anymore.

          1. Who exactly is pretending we don’t need hospitals any more?

            1. Leah is claiming it is overall more safe to give birth at home than in a hospital. And she is citing statistics that show that. Tulpa and I are calling Shenanigans because of the self selection of the women who give birth at home.

              1. Hmm… You must be good at reading minds because I’ve read over her comments three times now and can’t find the part where she says either 1.) it’s safer to give birth at home than in a hospital or 2.) that we don’t need hospitals. She linked to a study which concluded that “Home birth is an acceptable alternative to hospital confinement for selected pregnant women, and leads to reduced medical interventions.” She linked to said study to refute Another Phil’s assertion that “you’re a moron if you don’t” have a birth in a hospital. None of that suggests homebirths are, on the whole, safer than hospital births.

  9. So if someone hires a midwife to deliver a baby at home will the SWAT team kick in the door and shoot the newborn? What’s their policy on using flashbangs to get everyone dazed and confused first?

  10. Me and some fellow law students told some girls in a bar that we were midwives. Law student is pretty weak in Chicago, with six law schools and one million attorneys.

  11. So you are my competition? But you can’t do anything unless I approve? hmmmm …. I guess I don’t approve.

    Good thing this kind of stuff was adressed in that recent comprehensive health care reform bill.

  12. Given all the nasty bugs floating around hospitals, I’d think that both mother and baby would be safer at home, personally attended to by someone who gives the proper care. Hospitals are essentially an assembly line model of health care and don’t necessarily provide the best atmosphere for something like child birthing (absent complications, of course).

  13. “This city of more than 8 million people, with its reputation for being at the cutting-edge of modern urban living…”

    Yeah, unfortunately we’re also pretty close to the cutting edge of “the lamest crap that politicians can think up”. Remember, we’re the city that brought you the senator who actually suggested banning salt in restaurant meals. It’s my hometown and a great place, but we do breed an unusual number of people who think that the answer to every problem is banning something.

  14. More tragic oppression of upper middle class white folks! We cant buy our unpasteurized milk! The government wants us to immunize our children! We can’t got our midwife to come to our upper east side co-op!

    1. It’s illegal in Kentucky, too.

      KY hasn’t licensed a midwife in 40 years.

  15. All midwifery should be illegal. Because, you know, next thing that will happen is people might start doing other things that don’t involve Obamacare.

  16. How is this enforced, exactly? I assume that it’s still legal to give birth at home. If the parents want to invite someone there, and that person happens to participate in the process, are they then guilty of practicing midwifery without a license? Does Bloomberg refuse delivery and send the baby back?

  17. I hope that people who are reading this article will take the time to read up on the safety of out of hospital births. Yes, the safety!

    The US has some of the worst outcomes in maternity care, despite the amount of money that we spend. It is due to the constant overuse of interventions.

    If you want a “natural” birth or even a vaginal birth, you wouldn’t want to choose a surgeon as your care provider.

    Many women choosing homebirth do so because they would like to know the person that will be with them during labor, rather than working with a group of 20 providers.

    In other states, Licensed Midwives practice without being dictated by physicians. New York will need to get up to date on this!

    If you would like more info, visit

  18. Ugh, that is terrible. Hospitals take the control out of birth process from the woman. This is the culmination of the most spiritual point in a childs life. His or her Birth! Think of all the birthdays people celebrate and yet where is the honor for this most sacred day?

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