crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and
lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This
struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral
and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a
demand. It never did and it never will.”
— Frederick Douglass
I was a bit surprised on Wednesday when Alan Skipper replied to our letter and voice mail with a phone call. He said he understood we would like a meeting. I told him we would like to discuss our desire to have access to midwives in the state of North Carolina, could we possibly get a meeting on the books by Friday? He said he didn’t think that would be a problem, he needed to figure out who should attend from ‘their end,’ and that the meeting would likely have to take place in the late afternoon/early evening. I told him that was fine, even if it happened next month, but we would like to have the meeting on the calendar by Friday. He said he would get back to me. . .
When I hadn’t heard anything by Friday afternoon, I decided to call. The secretary informed me that he was not in on Friday and sent me to his voice mail. We experienced a similar brush off from New Hanover Regional Medical Center three years ago. The entire exchange felt as if we were trying to talk to some nebulous ‘leader’ who didn’t have time to converse with the common folk. So the fact that Alan Skipper called me back himself gave me hope. But he must have known he wouldn’t be there on Friday, he could have said he needed a week. But he didn’t say any of that. I feel like we may need to amplify our message a bit.
Please understand that the message in our action will still be, “Can we sit down and talk like adults?” But we want them to understand how badly we want to have this discussion, and that we are a force to be respected and that we are not going away.
Frankly, it’s been a very long week. This kind of behavior is cropping up all over right now. WMM? was contacted by folks from the AABC about a situation brewing in Pennsylvania. Essentially, the hospitals are trying to make it so that only physicians, podiatrists and dentists will be able to admit and treat people. Pennsylvania, like North Carolina, still has the physician’s signature requirement for CNMs to practice. Five of the oldest birth centers in the country (many have been operating for over 25 years) may have to close their doors.
We were also contacted by a midwife in Tennessee who worked at a 26 year old birth center until very recently. Over the course of the two years that she worked there, they went from a team of four midwives to two midwives. And on May 14th, when she tried to point out that they were making enough money to hire a third midwife, she was fired. No more birth center.
Oh, and let’s not forget the women who contacted us in New York earlier this year. They formed their own chapter of WMM? to confront a situation at Bassett Hospital. An award winning midwifery practice went from 10 CNMs to 2 CNMs over the course of a year. Here’s a press release we crafted for them, explaining the situation:
Now, maybe I’m crazy (always a possibility), but this all seems a bit too coincidental. What’s going on? Has the climate always been this hostile for midwives? We suspected it was after what happened here, after attending the ACNM Conference in 2010 and hearing first hand accounts of practice closures that happened all over the country. We asked folks to call us and heard nothing until now. Have physicians and hospitals suddenly become more aggressively anti-midwife, or are we just becoming aware of the scope of this problem? Either way, clearly the time to act is now.