We, the undersigned, members of Big Push for Midwives Campaign and other concerned citizens, call upon the leadership and members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to end the war that this professional trade group has waged against home birth and Certified Professional Midwives (“CPMs”). This petition refers to...
We, the undersigned, members of Big Push for Midwives Campaign and other concerned citizens, call upon the leadership and members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to end the war that this professional trade group has waged against home birth and Certified Professional Midwives (“CPMs”). This petition refers to the “College” and the “Congress” as “ACOG,” since the two groups are two sides of the same coin.
In this Petition, we present ACOG with these demands:
1. Stop misleading the American people, the media, and the federal and state governments about home birth!
2. Stop bullying American women about their birth-related decisions and choices!
3. End ACOG self-serving opposition to state regulation of licensed midwives!
4. Stop disparaging the education, credentials, skills, and abilities of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs)!
5. Stop ACOG attempts to exclude CPMs from important federal maternal-child health care legislation!
Who are we? We are mothers who have given birth at home or in a birth center or who plan to give birth at home or in a birth center. We are family members who participated in an out-of-hospital birth or wish to do so. We are advocates for women’s rights, for parents’ rights, and for better maternity health care. We are healthcare professionals. We are citizens, not K Street lobbyists, and we are united in our belief that women and families have the right to a legal home birth attended by a regulated Certified Professional Midwife.
Stop Misleading Americans About Home Birth. In a press release and in its Home Birth Ethics Opinion #476 published in 2011, ACOG provided flawed and inaccurate information to the media and the public by claiming, on the basis of a severely flawed meta-analysis (in the form of The Wax Paper), that home births are associated with increased rates of neonatal death. ACOG must be aware this study has been thoroughly discredited by international scholars and in respected journals, including Nature, Scientific American, The Economist, and The Lancet. Even the authors of the European and Canadian studies that were used in The Wax Paper have refuted the flawed meta-analysis in an article in Medscape.
We call upon ACOG to stop citing and relying on this failed meta-analysis to support its anti-home birth messages. We urge ACOG to work cooperatively with CPMs, home birth families, and consumer activists to achieve greater integration of out-of-hospital birth into the American health care system, to improve relations between obstetricians and midwives and consumers, and to make transports from home to hospital as cooperative and seamless as possible. These are all actions that will improve the safety of mothers and babies.
Stop Bullying American Women. We call upon ACOG and its members to stop the bullying, intimidation, manipulation, and coercion of pregnant women. This means ACOG members giving patients real informed consent, honoring their decisions, and avoiding punitive or coercive methods to force their compliance. This means no more “dead baby” scare stories that lack an evidentiary basis, no more calling or threatening to call child welfare agencies to force consent to unwanted interventions, no more court orders to force women to accept ACOG recommendations, no more physical or emotional abuse of women in labor. Just stop it.
Stop Fighting State Regulation of Midwives. We call upon ACOG to end its opposition to state laws and rules that will regulate the practice of Certified Professional Midwives. The lack of such regulation puts mothers and babies at needless risk because it not only prevents CPM-managed out-of-hospital births from becoming integrated into the existing health system, but also forces home birth families to seek health care in an underground “back alley” environment.
Women will continue to give birth at home, regardless of ACOG opposition, and when they do, they are entitled to be attended by state-regulated healthcare professionals who are specifically trained and educated in out-of-hospital birth. So long as CPMs remain unregulated in 23 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam, families who plan a home birth will lack the same consumer protections that are already provided by state governments for patients of doctors, nurses, chiropractors, dentists, and other health professionals. All these groups are regulated by the states – why not CPMs? Home birth families deserve access to midwives whose credentials have been vetted by state regulators and whose practice is subject to the same state disciplinary processes that govern other providers.
ACOG and its state chapters work with the state medical societies to thwart the efforts of citizen groups – real grassroots groups like South Dakotans for Safe Childbirth Options, the Illinois Coalition for Midwifery, the Alabama Birth Coalition, or the Friends of Midwives in North Carolina and Massachusetts and Iowa – to pass this needed legislation. STOP!
ACOG and its state chapters work with state medical societies to frighten, intimidate, and provide financial incentives in the form of campaign donations to legislators in order to block these reasonable laws that are needed to protect home birth mothers and their families. STOP!
Stop Disparaging Certified Professional Midwives. The national “Certified Professional Midwife” (CPM) credential is accredited by the same body, the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA), that also accredits the credentials of CNMs, CMs, and other types of nurse practitioners. NCCA standards either matter for all professions or they don’t matter for any professions. NCCA recognition cannot reasonably be deemed valid for some professional credentials but not for others. It is long past time for ACOG and its medical society allies to STOP disparaging CPMs with inaccurate, outdated, irrelevant, or just plain silly terms like “lay” midwife, or terms like “uneducated” and “lower standards.” ACOG should acknowledge that obstetric residencies do not teach care for unmedicated physiologic birth in out-of-hospital settings, while the CPM credential validates intensive home birth education, skills, and experience.
Stop Throwing ACOG Weight Around to Prevent Maternity Care Reform on Capitol Hill. OK, we get it. Big Medicine is a powerful special interest group that contributes generously to the campaign war chests of our U.S. Senators and Representatives. We call upon ACOG to stop using its power and cash to block, control, or deleteriously revise important maternal-child health legislation by excluding CPMs from these bills.
ACOG opposition to Medicaid payment for Certified Professional Midwives limits access for low-income women to birth centers, most of which are owned or staffed by CPMs, as well as to home birth, despite the fact that midwifery services have been shown to be highly effective both in reducing outcome disparities for socioeconomically at- risk populations and in producing significant cost savings for our healthcare system. We call upon ACOG to stop denying low-income women access to midwife care.
ACOG’s insistence on deleting all references to CPMs from bills such as (HR 894), the Maternal Health Accountability Act, and (HR 6437), the Partnering to Improve Maternity Care Quality Act of 2010, will isolate home birth families and their caregivers. ACOG acknowledges that home birth would be safer if it were integrated into the health care system, so ACOG needs to stop opposing steps that will facilitate that integration.
The women of America, 84% of whom give birth at some time in their lives, deserve genuine informed consent and not ACOG’s misleading, self-serving propaganda. For the health and welfare of America’s mothers and babies, work with us, not against us, to foster true informed consent for all women, regardless of birth setting, and to integrate out-of-hospital birth into the American health care system.