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Homebirth illegal in some states?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have seen mentioned on some threads that homebirth is illegal in one state or another. I find this very upsetting. I can't see any reason why it would be made illegal anywhere. This is supposed to be a free country.

Does anyone know all of the states that it is illegal in? I am curious. I thought the homebirth idea was spreading and to find out there are places it is illegal is just scary to me. I am planning a home water birth and it is legal here in Texas. I can't imagine it not being that way.

I would hate to think that someday it could be illegal everywhere.....could this happen? I don't know the widespread thoughts on homebirth. Alot of people in my hometown never really even thought about it. Some don't even know people do this at all.

What can we homebirthers do to make a difference?
post #2 of 12
Hi. The way I understand it, it is not illegal for homebirthers, rather for the attending midwife if it is a state that does not recognize them as legitimate... Make sense? (I am planning my second homebirth within the month & am in a state where it is illegal.) The midwife can get into trouble for practicing medicine without a license.
post #3 of 12
Visit www.mana.org for more info. This is a chart of current status of direct-entry midwifery attendance at births: http://www.mana.org/statechart.html Although some nurse-midwives attend births at home, it is rare and very difficult for them to obtain malpractice insurance to do so. You can visit www.acnm.org for more info about nurse-midwives.

You're right that it is sad that homebirths attended by midwives are illegal or alegal in certain states, especially in this country. I believe in the future, however, and we will make it work somehow and make it legal and safe for women to birth at home attended by a midwife of their choice.

warmly,
claudia
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
So, in the states where it is illegal to have a mid-wife attended home birth it is legal to have an unassisted homebirth??

I'll go check out those sites. Thank you.
post #5 of 12
In my state, NC, it's illegal for my MW. She's not a CNM and doesn't work for an OB.

Alexia
post #6 of 12
It is illegal in VA for a licensed midwife to attend a homebirth. It is not, however, illegal for a mother to have her baby at home. I guess it could be illegal for a father to assist the mother in a homebirth if anyone could prove that it was planned, something like impersonating a medical professional. That's a sketchy line. It really makes me mad because it would seem to be safer to have an experienced midwife attending. I have heard that lay-midwives attend births in VA because they have no concerns about losing their licenses and it would be hard to prove that they were there in a professional rather than personal capacity.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarineWife
It is illegal in VA for a licensed midwife to attend a homebirth. It is not, however, illegal for a mother to have her baby at home. I guess it could be illegal for a father to assist the mother in a homebirth if anyone could prove that it was planned, something like impersonating a medical professional. That's a sketchy line. It really makes me mad because it would seem to be safer to have an experienced midwife attending. I have heard that lay-midwives attend births in VA because they have no concerns about losing their licenses and it would be hard to prove that they were there in a professional rather than personal capacity.
Virginia just passed a bill 2 weeks ago allowing the state licensing of non-nurse midwives who passed the NARM exam.

Midwifery Legislation
The Virginia House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee on
Tuesday approved 19-3 legislation (HB 2038) that would create a
state-regulated licensing procedure for non-nurse midwives, who
often assist in home births but are not nurses or state-licensed
nurse-midwives, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The measure,
sponsored by state Del. Philip Hamilton (R), would allow midwives
who are already certified by nationally recognized midwifery groups
to receive state licensure, clearing the "gray area" left by the
repeal of 2003 criteria on registration for non-nurse midwives,
according to the Times-Dispatch. The measure does not require
midwives to have malpractice liability insurance, but they are
required to disclose their lack of insurance to potential clients.
The legislation also clarifies that physicians and other medical
staff who treat women after they have undergone a home birth are not
responsible or liable for any negligence by a midwife. According to
Brynne Potter, a lobbyist for the Commonwealth Midwives Alliance,
lawmakers in the state Senate have introduced companion legislation,
which has the support of state Senators who opposed similar
legislation last year. Hamilton introduced a similar bill last year,
but the measure was defeated in a Senate committee over concerns
about malpractice liability, according to the Times-Dispatch. The
House panel on Tuesday also passed a bill to set up a pilot program
that would enroll nurse-midwives in efforts to improve access to
obstetrical care in rural areas of the state. According to data from
the state Department of Health, there have been more than 400 home
births in Virginia each year for the past several years (Smith [2],
Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/26).



Summary as passed House:
Health professions; practice of midwifery. Provides for the licensing by the Board of Medicine of those persons who have obtained the Certified Professional Midwife credential to practice midwifery pursuant to regulations adopted by the Board of Medicine. The Board of Medicine shall adopt regulations, with advice from the Advisory Board on Midwifery established in this bill. The regulations shall (i) address the requirements for licensure to practice midwifery, (ii) be consistent with the current job analysis for the profession except that prescriptive authority and the possession and administration of controlled substances shall be prohibited, (iii) ensure independent practice, (iv) provide for an appropriate license fee, and (v) include requirements for licensure renewal and continuing education. The regulations shall not (a) require any agreement, written or otherwise, with another health care professional or (b) require the assessment of a woman who is seeking midwifery services by another health care professional. Licensed midwives must disclose to clients certain background information, including their training and experience, written protocol for medical emergencies, malpractice or liability insurance coverage, and procedures to file complaints with the Board of Medicine. The bill provides immunity to physicians, nurses, prehospital emergency personnel or health care institutions for acts resulting from the administration of services by any licensed midwife.
post #8 of 12
It's not illegal for me to give birth at home in Georgia. It is, however, illegal for an 'unlicensed' midwife to assist me.

The kink there is that the DHR of Georgia has refused to issue licenses since 1963... so obviously there are no 'licensed' midwives in the state.

Yet, they know they're out there, and there are specific procedures in place to get the birth certificate and so on. It makes *no* sense. But I also don't know that there's much to be done about it, with the present political climate here.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sevenkids
Virginia just passed a bill 2 weeks ago allowing the state licensing of non-nurse midwives who passed the NARM exam.
I did not realize this made it legal for midwives to attend homebirths. That's fabulous!
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto2
Hi. The way I understand it, it is not illegal for homebirthers, rather for the attending midwife if it is a state that does not recognize them as legitimate... Make sense? (I am planning my second homebirth within the month & am in a state where it is illegal.) The midwife can get into trouble for practicing medicine without a license.
Exactly, that is how it is where I live, in Utah. A woman has the right to birth her baby wherever and with whomever she wants, but it is not legal for an unlicensed midwife to attend her. Licenced midwives (CNM's) can't do homebirths for some reason. Doctors can but none of them do. My ND was my midwife at my last birth but she doesn't do births any more. I think she was the last legal person around. So my midwife this time, who was my midwife's assistant at my last birth, isn't legal. She can't legally do anything, it is illegal for her to do my prenatal care, it is illegal for her to check on me during labor like check FHT's or my blood pressure or do anything during labor. I think she can legally catch the head but that is it. She can't do any postnatal stuff either.

So it is legal for me to have any birth I want but no one is allowed to help me. Really stupid.

There is a bill that we are trying to get passed again, it has been tried and tried for years and never gets passed, that will offer certification for direct entry midwives. Maybe this will be the year.

There are many midwives practicing illegally in the state and they say if the bill doesn't pass they will start making arrests. The arrests are on hold until the final outcome of the bill is determined.
post #11 of 12
This sounds exactly like Nebraska. Except there are few if any DEMs practicing in the state because they've been issued cease and desist orders by the atty generals office. Two MWs were even raided a few years back. Raided! It's just stupid beyond belief.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarajane
What can we homebirthers do to make a difference?
Well, for one thing, you can keep on doing what you are doing (by having your baby at home), and give midwifery care the best advertisement--good, old-fashioned word of mouth. There is an organization here in Texas called Texans for Midwifery http://www.tfmidwifery.org/ that is made up of consumers who support midwifery care. Also, you can periodically check the Association of Texas Midwives webpage http://www.texasmidwives.com/ to keep up with any action at the state level. You'd be surprised how many times Texas midwives have had to rally together to keep midwifery legal in our state.
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