One of the commenters, on Homebirth Debate, has written:
The question we are left with is the wisdom of assigning
primary care of normal birth (admittedly a time-consuming,
physiologically-based management skill) to a surgical
working against ourselves by not being more
realistic about these issues? Could
it be that we are barking up the wrong
tree by confusing the topic of midwives
and planned home birth with the
general problem of a maternity care system that
in general needs to be
carried to absurd lengths. In spite of medical advances, quite a few women
jealously maintain they have a right to endanger themselves and their babies in
the name of personal freedom. Inadequately educated persons labelling
themselves as obstetric professionals jealously guard their right to be
allowed to endanger others in the practice of their entirely unregulated
"profession". As I write this, those Americans who think the Constitution
gives them the right to own guns are claiming that the students gunned down in
various campus shootings only died because they didn't have guns to protect
themselves against their assailants, rather than trying to remove guns from easy
access by the assailants.
We wouldn't allow doctors to practice medicine without being licensed, by a responsible authority, to do so, because lives are in the balance. Why do we allow "midwives" to do so? The first step to making reforms in our maternity care system is to make the practitioners of midwifery uniformly worthy of the respect of the medical community, as a unique branch of it. This would require, however, legislation on a Federal level, both of educational requirements, of the curricula of schools of midwifery, and of standards of practice. It would be necessary to create a governmental department responsible for the training, certification, and oversight of practicing midwives. Midwives would have to be, just as nurses and doctors are, graduates of accredited institutions meeting certain standards, be legally obligated to keep records, hold malpractice insurance, and do continuing education in order to maintain their licensure.
It ain't gonna happen. That would restrict "freedom". At present the demand for midwives is so small, and by such a fringe group that they don't exert any real pressure. Despite all their propaganda, DEMs account for less than one-half of one percent of births in the US.
The US is a very big and diverse country. European countries, on the other hand, are much smaller, more urbanized and centralized, and don't fear central government the way Americans do. European countries can, and do, regulate midwifery much more than will ever be feasible in the US. Also, the European homebirth model would be resisted vigorously in the US. Not all women are eligible for home birth in Europe (indeed, the majority deliver in hospital even in those countries held as models by homebirth advocates). One of the "rights" demanded by the homebirth lobby is that just about anyone who chooses a home birth must be allowed to have one, as a matter of personal choice, no matter how irresponsible that choice is. There is currently one DEM blogger who supports homebirth in a number of instances which are, by any criterion, not low risk (she even claims to have delivered a woman whose baby was in a position which is impossible to deliver vaginally). There is another DEM whose opinions have appeared on the internet which are completely refuted by all reputable statistics. Some women will be convinced by these women because they want to be .
"Empowered" is another term often bandied about. My guess is that it means that one is attempting to control an essentially uncontrollable process. The very unpredictability of birth is frightening. But whereas, if we were indicted on a capital charge, or if we needed to take an airplane to another city, we'd not hesitate to retain the very best criminal lawyer or put our lives in the hand of an experienced pilot, women who need this feeling of control over birth do the exact opposite. They choose not to trust medical professionals but deliberately want an amateur, who can't or won't contradict them, to be their birth attendants. Fear of hospitals is combined with fear of doctors, who are accused of being virtual sadists, bent on forcibly restraining women and subjecting them to gratuituous, painful procedures deliberately to wreck the "birth experience" (another phrase in the lexicon of those who want to reject modern science).
Oh, I could go on and on. Dr. Tuteur has written extensively about all of this. It is, to my mind, very odd.