New York: Deliver in a Hospital

Pop quiz: When a government regulation requires midwives to be certified by a hospital, what happens when the last hospital certifying those midwives closes? If you guessed “no midwives,” congratulations. If you’re a cynic, you probably guessed “another unintended consequence of government regulation.”

The Guardian recently reported that such is the case in New York:

The collapse of New York’s legal home birth midwifery services has come as a result of the closure two weeks ago of one of the most progressive hospitals in the city, St Vincent’s in Manhattan. When the bankrupt hospital shut its doors on 30 April the midwives suddenly found themselves without any backing or support.

There are 13 midwives who practise home births in New York, and under a system introduced in 1992 they are all obliged under state law to be approved by a hospital or obstetrician, on top of their professional training.

Requiring the additional approval of a hospital or obstetrician is in theory, of course, well-intentioned. But thanks to this well-intentioned regulation, mothers will now be forced to get their care elsewhere.

Had the professional training been enough to legally allow midwives to practice in the city, this would not have been a problem. But regulators, as is often the case, just couldn’t avoid this extra layer of red tape.

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