After news coverage spread of the AMA’s recent vote to adopt an anti-home birth resolution and their criticisms of celebrity Ricki Lake and her pro-midwifery/home birth documentary, objections arose from women’s health advocates, reproductive rights organizations, mainstream news outlets, parents and bloggers alike. Even Ricki Lake responded.
In response to the criticisms, The Big Push for Midwives Campaign reports that the AMA voted to delete all references to celebrity Ricki Lake in the resolution this week. The AMA cited Lake as a central figure encouraging women to birth at home, apparently against the domineering judgment of the AMA. Even with the deletion of Lake’s name, the organization still voted to proceed with its plans to promote legislation outlawing childbirth at home.
Steff Hedenkamp, Communications Coordinator of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign, says:
"Obviously the AMA was hoping to fly under the radar with its patronizing suggestion that women are choosing to have their babies at home because of something they heard Ricki Lake say on the Today Show. Now that they’ve been called on it, Ricki’s no longer in their sites…If the AMA truly believes that those of us who deliver our babies at home with professional midwives are making such a dangerous choice, then the American public deserves to know exactly how they plan to stop it."
The British Medical Journal’s recently conducted research, obtained from Citizens for Midwifery, shows that a planned home birth or birth center birth, under the care of a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) is as safe for the woman and her baby as a planned hospital birth – with much lower rates of intervention as well.
There are many states that now have licensed non-nurse midwives but, says The Big Push Campaign, "…no state has passed a law forcing hospitalization of all laboring women or dictating place of birth."
It’s hard to imagine that legislation such as the American Medical Association is proposing would gain enough support to pass in any state. The thought of creating more barriers to safe health care options for healthy, laboring women seems antithetical to what most Americans seek, especially in this election year where health care reform is a priority topic for candidates and citizens alike. However, the AMA is an extremely well-funded lobbying force which makes these threats easier to imagine.
"At best, we can expect to see them push for window-dressing laws that simply condemn home birth as unsafe but are used to harass families who make this choice, as well as the midwives who work with them," said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for the Big Push for Midwives. "At worst, I fear we could see scenarios very similar to the legislative battle in Missouri over legalizing CPMs, where the medical lobby strong-armed law makers into killing a bill that had broad support from both legislators and the general public."