The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA


Press Release regarding Citizen Support for Roberta Devers-Scott

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

Midwifery Supporters Rally at Governor's Mansion Candlelight Vigil to Protest Sentencing of Direct-Entry Midwife

On Monday, November 4, scores of traditional midwifery and natural childbirth activists held a candlelight vigil at the Governor's Mansion to protest new state regulations which resulted in the arrest and conviction of a Syracuse midwife for assisting at home births.

Roberta Devers-Scott, an eleven-year Syracuse-area home birth midwife, was sentenced on Monday morning in Syracuse, culminating the first criminal prosecution under a 1992 state law called the Midwifery Practice Act. Devers-Scott was arrested in her office in December, 1995, following a sting operation carried out by two undercover agents from the NYS Office of Professional Discipline.

Responding to the State's charge that she was "practicing midwifery without a license," Devers-Scott said, "Under ordinary circumstances I don't advocate breaking the law. However, if the law prevents a woman from choosing to do with her body what she deems right, then something is sorely wrong." "As Gandhi taught," she added, "You must become the change you want to see in the world."

The new regulations have also resulted in the investigation of more than a dozen traditional or "direct entry" midwives, forcing the majority of them to stop practicing and creating a shortage of trained practitioners to assist mothers giving birth at home.

"They represent a paradigm which is at odds with the medical model of birth, yet which is sanctioned in nearly twenty other states-as well as by the World Health Organization," said Elisa Graf, a member of New York Friends of Midwives (NYFOM). NYFOM is a statewide maternity care consumer group which advocates for a mother's right to choose where and with whom to give birth.

According to Ellen Becker, an Albany-area family practice attorney and spokeswoman for the Midwives Alliance of New York (MANY), "Women from New York State are being short-changed and many of them don't even know it. Just across the borders of Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut or New Hampshire, mothers can legally receive the same high quality midwifery care that is currently being outlawed and suppressed here. These other states recognize home birth as a safe, economical option and recognize traditional direct-entry midwives as the best providers of this care."

Organizers of the rally are calling for changes in the new regulations to allow for the licensure of the state's pre-existing pool of direct-entry midwives as well as new entrants to the profession, and to allow for them to continue attending home births. "Consumers are demanding options that include birth at home and the kind of support and care that traditional, community-based midwives provide," said NYFOM Co-coordinator Tisha Graham.

Norma Swenson, a member of the Boston Women's Health Collective and co-author of Our Bodies, Ourselves, the best-selling guide to women's health now in its third decade in print, attended the rally in spirit by sending a written message read to the crowd by a midwifery activist. Speakers at the rally included Archie Brodsky, a writer on medical ethics and health policy associated with Harvard Medical School; Donna Vidam, a traditional midwife from Connecticut who was recently acquitted on charges of violating that state's new licensing statute; and several Albany-area residents who have utilized the services of traditional midwives. The rally concluded with a presentation of citizens' letters of concern to Governor George Pataki.

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Legal Aspects of Midwifery


SEARCH gentlebirth.org

Main Index Page of the Midwife Archives

Main page of gentlebirth.org         Mirror site

Please e-mail feedback about errors of fact, spelling, grammar or semantics. Thank you.

Permission to link to this page is hereby granted.
About the Midwife Archives / Midwife Archives Disclaimer