In Houston, Texas, this spring, a young couple was excited to welcome a new baby boy into their family of four – and because of the experience and the inexpensiveness, they chose to try a homebirth and a midwife over a hospital. However, when the midwife failed to recognize a life-threatening complication, both baby and mother were rushed to the emergency room without time to spare. In the end, the mother almost died of blood loss, while the baby suffered permanent, severe brain damage from a lack of oxygen.
Did you know that while Texas midwives are required to be licensed, they are not required to carry liability insurance that would cover them in the event of a medical malpractice lawsuit? In fact, only one state out of fifty states—Florida—requires its practicing midwives to carry liability insurance. What does this mean for parents who choose home birth? If something goes wrong during the delivery due to the negligence or carelessness of the midwife, the parents will probably not be able to recover compensation from an insolvent defendant. If parents need ongoing medical care for their baby after a birth injury, the responsible party simply might not be able to pay.
The Midwives Alliance of North America say that they make it very clear to expecting parents regarding a general lack of insurance coverage – and they do not go forward with home births in which parents do not understand that they are taking responsibility for their home birth experience – good or bad.
However, parents like the ones above – who will pay dearly for their home birth complications for the rest of their lives – want to see Texas law changed. They believe that requiring midwives to carry liability insurance would not only make home births more fair, but would also make them more safe for both mother and child.