Protest planned over midwifery policy change in Muskegon

Posted at 5:24 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 17:24:36-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A protest is planned for this Sunday over a recent policy change at a health clinic that will no longer allow midwives to accompany their patients into the delivery room at Hackley Hospital.

Muskegon Family Center is one of the last healthcare facilities along West Michigan's lakeshore offering midwifery services.

But patients are upset over a recent decision made regarding allowing those midwives to accompany their patients all the way through their pregnancy. The clinic has decided to no longer allow their midwives to be present in the birthing rooms at Hackley.

Their administration provided a statement to FOX 17 citing recent similar decisions made at area facilities:

"North Ottawa Community Hospital closed their midwifery delivery practice in 2014 and Hackley Community Care followed suit. Muskegon Family Care’s decision was not made arbitrarily but reflects the community's trajectory."

But patient advocates are worried about women not having access to a full spectrum of options when it comes to delivering their babies.

“Consumers deserve options, especially when those options provide such great health benefits, evidence based care," said Kim Porter, a Grand Rapids-based midwife.

Porter says midwives act as advocates for women throughout the entirety of their pregnancy, and not allowing them into the delivery room can put women in an uncomfortable situation.

"I think women feel they lose their agency sometimes when they go into a hospital, that they are now just a vessel to a baby and their experience doesn’t matter. It's all about having a safe baby. But we’re finding that women’s experience does matter," Porter said.

LeeAnn Lawie, an advocate for women in Muskegon, has used midwives for both of her pregnancies. She is organizing the protest this Sunday in front of the clinic, asking them to keep the service available.

“I think really in the end we need balance. There needs to be a choice and an option for the patient to figure out what situation they feel the most comfortable in and that means we need midwives too. It means that midwives and OB/GYN's can work together to provide the best care for patients," Lawie says.

The rest of Muskegon Family Care's statement is below:

"Muskegon Family Care is committed to the community we serve; decisions are made based on the highest standards of quality care and the needs of our patients. Muskegon Family Care looks to partnering health care facilities regarding advancements and best practices around health care...  Collaboratives and partnerships are in place to ensure all patients receive the full spectrum of care through all stages of life. Muskegon Family Care is proud of the many quality awards that have been received over the years based on this philosophy.  We are always accepting new patients and look forward to continuing to serve the community."