Home Birth and the Marijuana Lobby

During the recent legislative season a South Dakota Safe Childbirth Options (SDSCO) supporter spoke to her representative, reminding him that the issue of licensing midwives comes up year after year and eventually would need to be passed. The Representative replied that home birth and midwifery is in the same category as the marijuana lobby: “Just because they keep coming back doesn’t mean it is a good idea.”

Religious, cultural, and philosophical issues which will always exist make home birth necessary, and South Dakota state law already affirms the right of women to choose to give birth at home. Rescinding this right is not possible as it represents a human rights concern. Given the inevitability of home birth a need remains for home birth families to have the safest care possible. Research defining the safety of home birth indicates consultation and referral for hospital care is an essential component for safe home birth. Until there are licensed home birth providers, it is impossible for hospitals and physicians to establish protocols for safe consultation and transfer of care. Research also indicates the safest care for a low-risk birth is with a qualified midwife. Until there is licensing for midwives, it is impossible for patients choosing home birth with a midwife to make an informed selection based on documented training and experience; instead they remain vulnerable to deception.

Home birth is not going to disappear because the legislature ignores it. Home birth is a choice protected by South Dakota state law. The refusal to of access to licensed providers and the obstruction of appropriate and timely referral and consultation protocols due to non-licensure creates avoidable risk with consequences of increased morbidity and mortality among our most vulnerable populations.