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Home Birth "Common Ground"?

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Written by Amie Newman for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

It may be less well-known than the effort to find common ground between the pro-choice and anti-choice movements but it's no less controversial, it seems.

The growing childbirth advocacy movement has highlighted the divide between those who would like to see expanded access to safe, state-regulated out-of-hospital birth and midwifery for women and those who oppose access to these options.

However, a new effort, nearly three years in the making, to bridge the divide is underway. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, a Home Birth Consensus Summit is being convened in 2011 and will bring both camps to the table in an effort to find areas of agreement with the ultimate goal of improving maternity care for pregnant, birthing and postpartum women and their babies.

In a statement about the summit, ACNM notes that the meeting will be facilitated by "the Future Search Network, a nonprofit organization that is internationally known for brokering lasting agreements and shared initiatives in highly volatile and polarized settings, around issues related to poverty, health care access, regional and ethnic conflict, and education. Future Search meetings produce a “Common Ground Agenda,” which articulates a shared vision and direction."

It's likely not shocking that this issue is considered "highly volatile,"  if you're a regular reader of RH Reality Check or have ever been a part of the maternity care system as patient or provider in this country. Despite a steady stream of peer-reviewed, published, scientific studies on the safety of planned home birth and the widespread use of midwives in other countries as credible maternity care providers, mainstream medical associations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) are fiercely opposed to any home birth options - licensed and regulated or not. Whereas a host of public health associations, nurses groups, nurse-midwifery organizations, certified professional midwifery advocates and even many individual MDs are working hard, daily, to pass state laws legalizing home birth and certified professional midwifery.

Progress is happening, though. Read more