Hastings Law Journal


Charles Wolfson


Whether stemming from a desire to obtain more control over the birth process, an attempt to achieve financial savings, or simply a wish to create a supportive environment responsive to individual needs, home birth has attracted parents from a wide social spectrum. This Article first explores the advantages and disadvantages of home birth by focusing on obstetric practices, the hospital setting, and the attendant physician. It then examines the present state of the law regarding home birth and lay midwives, concluding that the applicable law is both divergent and uncertain. The Article then addresses the constitutional issue of whether the decision to choose alternatives in childbirth is a fundamental right and, concluding that it is not, applies a rational basis analysis. Finally, the Article advocates a policy that supports home birth and lay midwives and establishes minimum qualifications for a defined scope of practice for lay midwifery, thereby securing parental freedom of choice in childbirth.

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