The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologsts, lead by Syracuse OBGYN RIchard A. Waldman, M.D., recently released a position statement on New York State bill S5007/A8117 which, once signed into law, will repeal a state requirement that certified nurse midwives execute “written practice agreements” with hospitals and doctors. In sum, the new law will permit midwives to manage low-risk deliveries, which account for 60-80% of all births, completely independent from a medical doctor or hospital facility. ACOG insists that the “written practice agreements” remain in place to ensure the safety of pregnant women by requiring that a doctor or hospital be available in the event of an obstetrical emergency.
According to Syracuse birth injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, the passage of the Midwife Modernization Act may contribute to a rise in preventable birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy, from at-home births that appear “low-risk” but evolve into complicated deliveries due to, e.g., umbilical cord compression, shoulder dystocia, fetal distress and/or maternal hemorrhaging. Simply stated, a “low-risk” birth can become a “high-risk” birth in a matter of seconds and, where a laboring mother and fetus attended to by a midwife (who is not qualified to perform a cesarean section), a mother and baby may suffer harm before there is time to relocate to a hospital for surgical or therapeutic intervention. This is why, according to American Medical Association Resolution 205 (2008), “the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in a hospital or birthing center within a hospital.”
At the present time, there are approximately 1,000 licensed midwives practicing in the State of New York, with more than one-half practicing in and around New York City. The balance are spread around the State, with roughly 50 practicing in and around Syracuse, Binghamton, Utica, Herkimer, Oneida, Oswego and Watertown.
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