Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"To Live Outside the Law, You Have to be Honest"

Last week at the Midwives Alliance conference in Nashville we met midwives who practice in states where midwifery is illegal. (We open this blog with a quote from Bob Dylan, who recorded Blonde on Blonde in Nashville, by the way). How do midwives resolve conflicts between ethics and law? Do midwives have an ethical obligation to provide services in states that have outlawed midwifery? These are tough questions.

Midwives certainly can't declare themselves above the law, nor can they take the law in their own hands. What they can do is make known their commitment to ethical standards and work toward legislative reform through the democratic process. We were impressed with those midwives we met in Nashville who have been working hard to make midwifery legal in their states.

As always, we welcome your comments.


  1. I think there has to be a balance between the midwife and the client when it is illegal. A mw has to be able to trust her client to keep her name unknown, to understand the risks to the mw and to support her with legislation efforts. When a client does not do all 3 of these, it is harder to work in this legal atmosphere.
    I am in this situation and have been for years but recently it seems my clients no longer do all 3 of these things so thus I am finding myself less willing to risk myself for someone else's birth.

  2. Speaking of illegal midwifery, this story was published today online in The Irish Times: