Temporary Victory for North Carolina Midwives and Expecting Mothers

Several midwives and their clients in North Carolina received a terrible blow last week when the decision of one doctor revoked the licenses of 7 of the state’s 11 homebirth midwives. The N.C. Board of Nursing and the N.C. Medical Board issued a policy change this week to enable certified nurse midwives whose supervising doctor becomes suddenly unavailable for any reason to continue operating for up to 75 days while they seek a new supervising physician.

Take Action: Expand Birth Options for Women in North Carolina

While the action comes as a relief to the clients of the midwives whose doctor, Dr. Henry Dorn of High Point, NC,  suddenly dropped them, it’s not necessarily a long term solution because so few doctors in the state of North Carolina are willing to supervise homebirth midwives.

Dr. Dorn told the midwives he would no longer supervise them because the Board of Medicine was prohibiting it, so dismayed midwifery clients and supporters flooded the Board of Medicine and public officials that might influence them, including the governor, with calls, faxes, and emails last week after several media outlets covered the story. However, Jean Fisher Brinkley, the NC Medical Board director of public affairs told Chapelboro.com that Dr. Dorn “has a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine.” N.C. Medical Board President Ralph C. Loomis wrote a letter to the editor of the News Observer asserting that “[t]he board has no policy that would prohibit physicians from supervising [certified nurse midwives] and has no plans to adopt such a policy.” Dr. Dorn has declined media interviews.

“It’s been remarkable over the last couple of days how well the Board of Medicine and the Board of Nursing and the Joint Midwifery Committee have worked together in order to come up with a short term solution,” said Fayetteville midwife Nancy Harman. “So what we need to do is build on that.”

North Carolina House Bill 522 and Senate Bill 662 would provide legal access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) and increase access to Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) that provide homebirth. Planned home birth that is attended by a midwife can be as safe, or perhaps safer, than planned hospital birth with a dramatic reduction in cesarean section, and other potentially harmful interventions, at a fraction of the cost. The best and safest environment for homebirth women and their babies is one in which midwives, both CPM, and CNM, and local doctors and hospitals can collaborate and work together enabling consultations and smooth transfers of care.

Photo by thinkstockphotos.com


Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon5 years ago

Felicia S. has requested that if I have a response to her comment I post about it here rather than sending her an email in an effort to open a discussion about it.

So, to quote her comment exactly "This is just another SOUTHERN STATE trying to CONTROL WOMEN!!!".

This comment appears to indicate that the person making the comment did not read the details in the article, or did not understand the article clearly when reading it, or is simply venting a preconceived knee-jerk response without caring whether it fits the details of the article or not.

Lauren B.

I have had the good luck to be present at four home births, one of which was my sister's second baby. All were healthy babies delivered by amazing, competent midwives (except for the one I caught who was early, born at home by accident, now 6 and thriving). No hospital infections, no unnecessary interventions. This should be a viable, accessible option for all mothers!

Kynthia R.
Kynthia Rosgeal5 years ago

So many more babies would enter this world into a quiet serene environment if midwives were allowed to do their job. We also need competent lactation therapists to ensure our babies have the healthiest start possible !

Mitchell D.
Mitchell D5 years ago

Midwifery needs to be supported, and this case seems apt to bring North Carolina into greater synchronicity with the 21st century.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Ellyn V.
Ellyn V5 years ago

Interesting that people say this doctor decided to dump all of his midwives to reduce his liability. I would actually think it would increase his risk of some sort of lawsuit to do this the way he did.

Many of those women were very close to delivering and would have been forced to have their babies delivered by whatever physician happened to be on call that day, not one familiar with the woman or her situation. I very much believe that if something had gone wrong for any of these women that there could be a malpractice lawsuit against this doctor for depriving the women of their medical practitioner's care that late in pregnancy. What this doctor did does not suggest concern for liability.

There is obviously something more going on with this doctor as 1) he lied to the midwives about the reason for his actions 2) he violated standards of medical care by not providing time for the patients to be referred to new care providers. I'm glad that the state was able to find a temporary fix to this but there also needs to be an investigation into the doctor's actions.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Thanks for the information.

John B.
John B5 years ago

A good short term solution and glad to see the 2 boards and the committee were able to work together on this which bodes well for a more long term positive outcome. Thanks Jennifer for the article.

Jenny F.
Jenny Fletcher5 years ago

If home birth was so dangerous, the human race would have died out altogether! I'm not a parent, but if I had been would have wanted a home birth if at all possible. Yes, by all means transfer to hospital in the case of complications but don't over medicalise birth. We have the same battles in the UK to make sure that home birth is an option. Good luck to this campaign.

pete M.
peter m5 years ago

It will never end your fight idiotic s that are fanatics.