From the June 2008 Idaho Observer:

Brave New Birthing: Big Brother fires first salvos on its newest attack on human potential

On the left is a newborn just delivered in a hospital via C-section. On the right is a baby born at home naturally. Note how traumatized the left baby is compared to the right baby. The left baby was surgically born under lights at the convenience of mom and the physicians. The right baby was born vaginally in natural lighting at the convenience of God and nature. The left baby is first handled by strangers in latex gloves and taken away to be "cleaned up." The right baby is first handled by a midwife or the mother and immediately placed at his mother’s breast. If you had a choice, how would you prefer to be born—the left way or the right way? If you didn’t have a choice, would the state choose left or right for you?

AMA seeks to outlaw homebirth; punishmidwives as criminals

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 16, 2008)—Just in time for Father’s Day, at its annual meeting last weekend, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution to introduce legislation outlawing home birth and potentially making criminals of the mothers who choose home birth with the help of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) for their families.

"It’s unclear what penalties the AMA will seek to impose on women who choose to give birth at home, either for religious, cultural or financial reasons—or just because they didn’t make it to the hospital in time," said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives 2008 campaign. "What we do know, however, is that any state that enacts such a law will immediately find itself in court, since a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution."

Until the AMA proposed "Resolution 205 on Home Deliveries," no state had considered legislation forcing women to deliver their babies in the hospital or limiting the choice of birth setting. Instead, states have regulated the types of midwives that may legally provide care. Currently, 22 states already license and regulate CPMs, who specialize in out-of-hospital maternity care and have received extensive training to qualify as experts in the types of risk assessment and preventive care necessary for safe and high-quality care for women who choose to give birth at home. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), who are trained primarily as hospital-based providers, are licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The resolution did not offer any science-based information for the AMA’s anti-midwife or anti-home birth position.

"Maternity care is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States," said Steff Hedenkamp, Communications Coordinator for The Big Push for Midwives. "So it’s no surprise to see the AMA join the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in its ongoing fight to corner the market and ensure that the only midwives able to practice legally are hospital-based midwives forced to practice under physician control. I will say, though, that I’m shocked to learn that the AMA is taking this turf battle to the next level by setting the stage for outlawing home birth itself—a direct attack on those families who choose home birth, who could be subject to criminal prosecution if the AMA has its way."

The Big Push for Midwives ( is a nationally- coordinated campaign organized to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and to push back against the attempts of the American Medical Association to deny American families access to safe and legal midwifery care.

Media inquiries should be directed to Steff Hedenkamp (816) 506-4630,


Congress approves bill to establish national system of genetic testing, surveillance and research; no parental consent necessary

On April 24, 2008, President Bush signed the "Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007." The bill passed the Senate Dec. 13, 2007 by unanimous consent and passed in the House by voice vote April 8, 2008 (a record of who voted for the bill was not kept).

The bill nationalizes the genetic testing of all newborn American children—and their families.

Twila Brase of the Citizens Commission on Healthcare analyzed the bill before its passage and noted five key concerns:

No Consent; expanded testing. Newborn screening is "the first program of populationwide genetic testing," wrote Nancy Green, MD, in an article that appeared in the Nov., 2006 edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

H.R. 3825 [the bill’s House version] will expand government genetic testing of newborn citizens. It calls for the expansion of genetic conditions for which all newborns are to be tested and identification of "secondary conditions."While the Institute of Medicine recommends that all genetic screening be voluntary—including PKU testing and other newborn screening—parent consent is not required by the legislation.

Nationalized government databases and registries. H.R. 3825 will nationalize current state newborn (genetic) screening programs, registries, and data systems. Infants and families will be placed into testing databases and tracking registries as part of the newborn screening program. H.R. 3825 requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate with state programs to "collect and analyze data on the incidence and prevalence of genetic and heritable disorders" and to operate regional centers for research. The Health Information Privacy Act Rule currently allows government access to private patient data without consent.

Tracking individuals with "disorders." Once newborns are screened, federal grants can be used to track and assess the child and "coordinate ongoing followup treatment." As the list of trackable disorders and "at risk" genes expands—perhaps to include obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, and violence—more children and families will be entered into genetic tracking registries for monitoring and assessment.

Research on citizens without consent. H.R. 3825 exposes every newborn and their family to government-funded research. Grantees are encouraged to analyze data collected from newborn screenings to "identify populations at risk for disorders affecting newborns and to examine and recognize and address relevant environmental, behavioral, socioeconomic, demographic, and other relevant risk factors."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contemplates building a national databank of newborn dried blood spots (DBS) for genetic research, seemingly without parent consent. A 2003 survey found 13 state health department laboratories using newborn DBS for research, 34 using newborn DBS to evaluate existing or new screening tests, and 20 states willing to contribute newborn DBS to multi-state research projects.

Coercive funding. The millions of dollars in federal appropriations are tied to compliance with Advisory Committee recommendations. State health department staff and advocates of newborn screening will likely use the new federal grant dollars to push for expansion of the program—and to argue against parent consent for genetic testing, surveillance and research.

Ominous implications

While the American College of Medical Genetics recommends screening children for 29 conditions, states like Minnesota and Indiana test for more than 50 conditions. The vision of the eight-state Heartland Genetics and Newborn Screening Collaborative goes even farther:

Every Heartland newborn is screened for 200 conditions where early recognition makes a difference in their life and health. What that means is a personalized education program can be designed for every new student in the Heartland based on confidential interpretation of their family medical history, their brain imaging and their genetic predictors of best learning methods.

Legal, ethical complications

There are serious legal, ethical and self-determination implications to government-imposed genetic testing:

• The parent/patient right of consent for medical testing is a long-established legal right.

• Genetic tests are, at best, only predictive, but many erroneously consider them presumptive.

• Results are entered in child’s medical record which could enable future discrimination. Blood and test results held by the State are considered government property, available for whatever purposes the state might choose.

• Not everyone wants to know about their health future—or let others know about it.

Concluding thoughts. The act will expand newborn genetic testing, initiate identification of secondary conditions, place more individuals into government tracking systems, build intrusive government treatment monitoring and follow-up programs, strengthen claims of government ownership to the DNA and genetic information of citizens, make research subjects of citizens, and violate the citizens’ right to "not know/not tell" their genetic predispositions. The proposed legislation does not acknowledge or uphold the rights of citizens to be free from government genetic testing, government surveillance and government-conducted or government-supported genetic research.

CCHC of St. Paul, MN, can be contacted at or (651) 646-8935.