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The petition details are as follows:
New Jersey Choice in Birth Petition
Whereas it is well documented in medical literature that childbirth, free of intervention, is associated with much better long term outcomes for both mothers and babies, promoting mother/infant bond, increasing breastfeeding rates, lowering postpartum depression incidence, access to natural birth is virtually an impossible Choice for women in the state of New Jersey and even less for low-income women. And;
Whereas The State of New Jersey has the 3rd highest cesarean section rate in the nation at 38.7% and cesarean section is associated with higher chances of complications in a woman’s current delivery and any pregnancies that may follow, our state has compromised the health of the women in New Jersey by increasing their odds for birth related morbidity and mortality. One of the most common obstetrical interventions is continuous fetal monitoring, an intervention which directly interferes with a woman’s ability to give birth without medication, particularly epidural anesthesia, and has been shown for over 40 years to not improve outcomes but to increase risk for cesarean section. Healthy women in spontaneous labor are unable to make the Choice to forgo this dangerous labor intervention in almost all hospitals in New Jersey. And;
Whereas Vaginal Birth after Cesarean section (VBAC) has been documented to be successful more than 71% of attempts, repeated cesarean sections are associated with increasing risk to the mother’s life and fertility; VBAC is minimally available to women and often refused to women when they request the service. And;
Whereas Homebirth has been shown to be as safe as hospital birth for low risk women within an integrated health system that allows for easy transfer of care into the hospital when necessary; Homebirth is becoming a more common phenomenon in the face of ever restrictive hospital protocols when women desire to be in control of their own bodies and family; Homebirth is legal in New Jersey but the ability to provide safe Homebirth services is restricted by many Obstetricians, hospitals and insurance companies instituting policies that restrict healthy, low-risk women’s Choices. And;
Whereas Water labor and birth has been documented to be a safe, inexpensive, complication-free support to natural childbirth, women in New Jersey have little to no access to birth pools. Women have no Choices when admitted to the hospital and desiring of pain relief other than medication. And;
Whereas Midwifery has been the standard of obstetrical care in almost all countries with the lowest maternal mortality and morbidity and the lowest costs for providing safe, satisfying obstetrical care, Midwifery is not a choice for most women in New Jersey, midwives attend only 8% of the births in New Jersey. The barriers to access to Midwifery care include restriction of trade when many hospitals exclude midwives from their medical staff, obstetricians refuse to consult with midwives, especially midwives providing homebirth services, Certified Midwives (CM) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) are excluded from obtaining privileges in hospitals that grant privileges to nurse-midwives. Midwifery is also restricted by limited access to midwifery education due to lack of funding for the programs and for the tuition. Access to midwifery care is also limited by knowledge deficits of the women in New Jersey as to the best provider of care in a healthy low-risk pregnancy. Midwifery is also limited by the lack of birth centers in New Jersey. Birth centers are the best way for the midwifery model of care to be implemented. And;
Whereas the state of New Jersey is the most litigious state in the country, obstetric providers, hospitals and nurses have valid concerns regarding their liability/responsibility in allowing women the right to Choose Intervention-free natural childbirth, Midwifery care, VBAC, Waterbirth, and Homebirth within their practice/facility. This fear of litigation has severely reduced the freedom of CHOICE for New Jersey women.
Therefore, We, the Women of New Jersey and our families, declare birth and access to choices inherent within to be a basic human right and ask the Governor of the State of New Jersey Chris Christie to join with us in making New Jersey the best and safest state for women to give birth and to be the leader in the country for demanding women’s rights to choose their birth setting, provider and type of birth through legislation and tort reform.
de Jonge A, van der Goes B, Ravelli A, Amelink-Verburg M, Mol B, Nijhuis J, Gravenhorst J, Buitendijk S. Perinatal mortality and morbidity in a nationwide cohort of 529 688 low-risk planned home and hospital births. BJOG 2009 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2009.0217
American College of Nurse-Midwives. Intermittent auscultation for intrapartum fetal heart rate surveillance. J. Midwifery Women’s Health. 2010;55(4):397-403
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000111.pub3/abstract;jsessionid=FCFB45EBB803E3BCBDDE360C2F25307F.f01t01 (Immersion in Water for Labour and Birth)
Childbirth Connection (2012). Vaginal or Cesarean Birth: What Is at Stake for Women and Babies? New York: Childbirth Connection. Available at: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/reports/cesarean/