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|Expectant mothers in the Washington metropolitan area are finding fewer hospital-based midwifery services as malpractice insurance costs continue to escalate.
Georgetown University Hospital in Northwest recently announced it will cancel its nurse-midwife program by the end of June. A medical group in Frederick, Md., cut a similar program three months ago.
The demise of both programs is part of a national trend that expectant mothers and some doctors argue stomps on women's freedom.
"It's a very bad trend for several reasons," said Dr. Marsden Wagner, former director of Women's Health for the World Health Organization. "When the hospital fires the midwives, they are stealing options, taking away from the freedom of women."
Dr. Wagner was one of more than 100 doctors, expectant mothers and midwives who rallied yesterday outside Georgetown University Hospital to protest its decision to end the Georgetown Midwives program. The hospital laid off its three midwives.
"In every other country except ours, over 80 percent of births are attended by midwives, not by doctors," Dr. Wagner said. "And in many, many countries, they lose fewer women and they lose fewer babies than we do."
Some doctors say there is a stigma attached to midwives in the United States.
"There's still a tendency to say, 'Midwife? That's old, that's second-class care.' We're still trying to dispel that image," said Ruth Lubic of the D.C. Birth Center in Northeast. ....
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