Stacey A. Tovino, who teaches at the Health Law and Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center and has written on midwifery and the law, said prosecutions of midwives almost always started with a tragedy.Every birth is a potential disaster! So is every car trip. Lots of us assume we will be lucky, especially when the odds are in our favor. That's why when we lose we say "Why me?" We rarely think to say "Why not me?" The question is whether the state ought to save us -- and our children -- from our relentless optimism.
"No one complains until a baby dies or a mom dies," Professor Tovino said. But once the issue arises, she said, legislatures often become involved as well, with doctors and midwives engaging in a bitter struggle over the proper regulation of midwives, one driven by a mix of motives that are difficult to disentangle....
"Midwifery is an autonomous profession," [a midwife, Mary Helen] Ayres said. "It's an art and a science that predates the medical model of care. Midwifery sees birth as normal and basically safe.
"It's made safer by reliance on the woman's power," she continued. "The medical model assumes the woman is passive and her body needs to be acted upon. Every birth is presented as a potential disaster from which every woman needs to be protected and potentially rescued."
April 3, 2006
That's a description of childbirth, accomplished at home, by candlelight, with the help of a midwife. It's pretty when it's pretty, but what if the baby dies, and it wouldn't have died in the hospital? Indiana is prosecuting a midwife: