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A Report on The NOW National Conference Committee on Health and Reproductive Rights, July 3, 1999 Expansion of Reproductive Freedom to Include Midwifery Model of Care.

The National Organization for Women, the largest and most important feminist organization in the country, has expanded its definition of reproductive rights to include choices in childbirth. The amendment reads:

Whereas, The National Organization for Women has long supported reproductive freedom as a priority issue; and

Whereas, NOW believes that women should have compete authority over their reproductive lives; and

Whereas, reproductive freedom not only includes the ability to decide whether or when to bear children, but also the right to devise a birth plan with a medical provider of their choice in either a hospital or an alternative setting such as a freestanding birth center or private residence; and

Whereas, women have historically given birth with midwives; and

Whereas, the practice of midwifery has many benefits including lower costs, lower rates of premature births, higher rates of breastfeeding, and greater satisfaction with the birthing experience, and has been endorsed by The World Health Organization; and

Whereas, midwifery has a lower incidence of medical interventions during the birthing process, including routine episiotomies and cesarean sections; and

Whereas, women's access to midwifery and traditional birthing practices are many times limited by restrictive laws and non-coverage by private insurance companies and state-subsidized funding;

Therefore, be it resolved that The National Organization for Women's policy statements, brochures, and fact sheets on reproductive freedom shall include references to birthing choices, safe childbearing practices, midwifery; and

Be it finally resolved that NOW work in cooperation with state and national midwifery organizations to increase women's limited access to midwifery and community awareness of childbirth, pregnancy, and early parenting choices.

Submitted by The Health and Reproductive Rights Hearing of The National Organization for Women National Conference, Beverly Hills, CA, July 3, 1999, Chair: Sheila Moore; Submitted by: Linda McCabe, Sonoma County NOW (with assistance from Suzette Henderson, Ohio-Now, and Cordelia Hanna and Mary Ceallaigh, Midwifery Childbirth Awareness Project of California Association of Midwives).

--An online version of the NOW resolution is at:
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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Dec 22, 1999
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