New York City Women No Longer Allowed to Give Birth at Home With a Midwife

By Ben Fractenberg on May 14, 2010 6:44pm 

Pregnant women in New York City are not allowed to give birth at home after St. Vincent's hospital closed. The hospital was the only one in the city willing to pay for an expensive approval process state midwives have to go through.
Pregnant women in New York City are not allowed to give birth at home after St. Vincent's hospital closed. The hospital was the only one in the city willing to pay for an expensive approval process state midwives have to go through.
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Flickr/Kingray

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN—New Yorkers, long-accustomed to getting whatever they want in the privacy of their own apartments, are no longer able to legally give birth at home in the presence of a trained midwife, The Guardian reported Friday.

St. Vincent’s, which was forced to close last month, was the only hospital in the city willing to underwrite the approval process midwives must go through to legally deliver babies under state law. Most other hospitals and doctors in the city are unwilling to subsidize the process, The Guardian said.

“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," Elan McAllister, president of maternity organization "Choices of Childbirth, told the paper.

There are currently 13 midwives practicing in the city, all of whom now lack the proper paperwork to practice, forcing them to choose between dropping their clients or working illegally.

The U.S. as a whole seems adverse to home births, with less than 1 percent of women delivering at home in the United States, the Guardian reported. Rates of home birth in several European countries are much higher. The Netherlands has a home birth rare of 30 percent, the Guardian reported.

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