Attorneys looking for VBAC ban victims

by | Jul 3, 2008 | VBAC Bans | 9 comments

This was emailed out on the ICAN list:


Dear Friends,

As you are likely aware, many women are denied access to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) because of hospital policies and outright bans. Attorneys with the Northwest Women’s Law Center in Seattle are looking at this issue.

It requires that the woman is planning a hospital birth, in a hospital that bans VBAC, because she has no other options (not feeling comfortable with a homebirth is an acceptable reason to not have a homebirth for this purpose, so it doesn’t have to be in an area where there are also no midwives available). The reason for not having options can be geographic (no close hospitals to go to) or something like restrictions placed on her because of insurance or lack of insurance. But she definitely has to be planning a hospital birth.


I’m a lawyer with the Northwest Women’s Law Center in Seattle. I’m investigating possible legal responses to bans on vaginal birth after cesarean at hospitals in the northwest states Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon. If you are currently pregnant and want to have a VBAC, but are facing a hospital policy that would require you to have a c-section regardless of whether you want it and regardless of whether it is actually medically necessary, and you are willing to consider working with a lawyer on this, we’d like to talk with you. Please respond to

Even if you are not in one of the states listed, you can still help by emailing this out to any email lists you are on and asking everyone who receives it to email it to all the lists THEY are on as well so that it is distributed far and wide. Thanks.

Susan Hodges, “gatekeeper”

What do you think?
Leave a comment.

What do you think? Leave a comment.


  1. Bravo! I hope you can get this going. I am currently fighting for a VBAC and it feels hopeless. No one will do it. My doctor even said he is pro-VBAC and he feels that !) I am a good candidate and B) VBAC’s are often safer than a repeat un-necessary operation but he can not perform it because of hospital policy.

    I had 2 very successful vaginal births and one c-section that turned out to be completely unnecessary (they had misjudged her weight during an ultrasound and were expecting a 13lb baby…turns out she was 9lbs). I had every complication and side effect possible with the c-section it was awful. I’d rather have this baby at home alone that go through that again.

  2. I live in Boise, Idaho and one of the two major hospitals here won’t allow me to VBAC since I do not meet their “checklis” of requirements. I had a classical incision done, against my will, at the premature birth of our son. Now those doctors are telling me they’d schedule me for a c-section at 35 weeks. I have three children, all born with an hour or two of labor and all vaginally. I will NEVER have another c-section, it was horrific. The rate of rupture with a classical is 4%- hardly high enough for me to voluntarily get cut open.I have found doctors around the country who are doing vbacs after all kinds of incisions, but certainly not in Idaho. I don’t want to have to give birth on the street, how can the hospital tell me it’s “their way or the highway?” Apparenlty it’s also illegal in Idaho for midwives to help me? I can only see nurse midwives. How can laws deny us care? Please help!

  3. I just moved to an area(Winston/Roseburg Oregon) that has banned VBAC hospital births. All of my five children were born vaginally without complications but before the birth of our youngest son, a VBAC delivery in a hospital with no complications, I carried for friends and had a cesarean delivery. So far no options other than cesarean section have been offered to me other than trying to make it all the way to Eugene, Oregon for the birth of our baby next month. My labors are so quick that this is far from realistic!
    I had the preferred incision and suturing for a future VBAC with my cesarean as it was always my intention to give birth naturally in the future. If I could find anyone willing to attend my birth locally without forcing me to undergo surgery I would be grateful!
    I feel very bullied by hospital policies that ban a pregnant woman’s choice in such a personal matter and would be happy to help pave the way for other women who do not feel they have a choice in the future!
    I can’t help but wonder if the hospital’s “policy” has more to do with money for them than the safety of their patients!

    • Robin,

      I highly recommend you read about the new ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 115 as well as my latest article about VBAC in rural hospitals. Hopefully hospitals will be reversing their VBAC bans as a result of ACOG’s new recommendations.



  4. None of the hospitals near me will perform VBACs, I have to drive 45 min to the closest hospital that will. In 2007 I had a sucessfull VBAC with my son in a hospital with midwives. The policy has since changed to where I have to see an OB/Gyn and follow their VBAC rules, i.e. an IV, continuous monitoring, and a possible epidural that I do not want. It has also become illegal for me to give birth in a birth center. I am angry that my choices for a natural birth have been limited so greatly. I can also not find a midwife who will do a homebirth because no doctor will back them up. They are also not covered under my insurance. I am very frustrated, if you can help that would be great.

  5. It’s great that something is being done about this! Even in an area that has VBAC-friendly hospitals, it’s not always easy to find a doctor that will allow it. I think that it’s important for pregnant women to be aware of their rights and fight for them. I would also like to see something done regarding a woman’s right to a VBAC waterbirth. It’s done in home births regularly, but hospitals will not allow me to give birth in water, just because I’ve had a previous c-section (it is available, but not to VBAC moms). To my knowledge, Washington state medicaid will not cover my child’s birth if I give birth in a birth center vs. a hospital – and I don’t want to be forced into giving birth on my back in a hospital bed!

  6. I am currently pregnant with my third child and desperately want to have a VBAC. It’s like pulling teeth to get someone to even talk about it. My doctor says he doesn’t have a problem doing it but the Mercy Hospital in Roseburg Oregon won’t allow it. If you can help the women in this area that really would love to have a VBAC I would greatly appreciate it! Brandi

    Brandi, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Please contact vbacbanhelp at ican-online dot org for assistance. Please keep me posted on what happens. Best, Jen

  7. I linked to this post on my site – working with you to get the word out! Thanks for your efforts on behalf of VBAC moms!


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Jen Kamel

Jen Kamel is the founder of VBAC Facts, an educational, training and consulting firm. As a nationally recognized VBAC strategist and consumer advocate, she has been invited to present Grand Rounds at a hospital, served as an expert witness in a legal proceeding, and has traveled the country educating hundreds of professionals and highly motivated parents. Even more have accessed her trainings online. She speaks at national conferences and has worked as a legislative consultant in various states focusing on midwifery legislation and regulations. She has testified multiple times in front of the California Medical Board and legislative committees on the importance of VBAC access and is the Secretary for the California Association of Midwives and the California Association of Licensed Midwives. Her favorite flavor of ice cream is peanut butter chocolate. And mint chip. And coffee.

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