The Politics of Home Birth in the United States


  • Eugene Declercq PhD

    Professor, Assistant Dean, Corresponding author
    • Community Health Sciences, DrPH Education, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
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Address correspondence to Eugene Declercq, PhD, 801 Massachusetts Ave. CT-430, Boston, MA 02118-2526, USA.


Home birth has emerged as a political issue in several states in the United States, and this essay examines two aspects of home births politics. First, legislative battles over home birth policy do not conform to our typical models of partisan (i.e., Democratic vs Republican) politics, and attempts at advocacy cannot rely on classical strategies of alignment with a dominant party in a state. Second, the debates over home birth have increasingly begun to parallel current partisan battles in their emotion and intensity with the related gridlock and reluctance to consider compromises that are often necessary to achieve policy goals. This essay calls for a greater willingness for all sides to approach home birth less as an ideological mission and more as a health policy challenge to support consumers interested in an integrated system of care. (BIRTH 39:4 December 2012)