National Organization for Women 

The largest and most important feminist organization in the country has expanded it's definition of reproductive rights to include choices in childbirth.

A Report on The NOW National Conference Committee on Health and Reproductive Rights, 
July 3, 1999


WHEREAS, The National Organization for Women has long supported reproductive freedom as a priority issue; and 

WHEREAS, NOW believes that women should have compete authority over their reproductive lives; and 

WHEREAS, reproductive freedom not only includes the ability to decide whether or when to bear children, but also the right to devise a birth plan with a medical provider of their choice in either a hospital or an alternative setting such as a freestanding birth center or private residence; and 

WHEREAS, women have historically given birth with midwives; and 

WHEREAS, the practice of midwifery has many benefits including lower costs, lower rates of premature births, higher rates of breastfeeding; and greater satisfaction with the birthing experience, and has been endorsed by The World Health Organization; and 

WHEREAS, midwifery has a lower incidence of medical interventions during the birthing process, including routine episitomies and cesearean sections; and 

WHEREAS, women's access to midwifery and traditional birthing practices are many times limited by restrictive laws and non-coverage by private insurance companies and state-subsidized funding; 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The National Organization for Women's policy statements, brochures and fact sheets on reproductive freedom shall include references to birthing choices, safe childbearing practices, midwifery; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that NOW work in cooperation with state and national midwifery organizations to increase women's limited access to midwifery and community awareness of childbirth, pregnancy and early parenting choices. 

Submitted by: The Health and Reproductive Rights Hearing of The National Organization for Women, National Conference, Beverly Hills, CA July 3, 1999, Chair: Shiela Moore. Submitted by: Linda McCabe, Sonoma County N.O.W. (with assistance from: Suzette Henderson, Ohio-NOW and Cordelia Hanna and Mary Ceallaigh, Midwifery Childbirth Awareness Project of California Association of Midwives ).