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Nation’s Largest Hospital to Ban Vaginal Birth, NY State Likely to Follow

April 1, 2008

New York City’s St. Sister Mercy General Regional Hospital, which is the nation’s largest hospital and presides over more births than any other facility, announced today* that it would no longer offer vaginal deliveries. Hospital spokesperson John Smith stated, “We were on track to reach a 75% c-section rate within the year, and believe that women unnecessarily suffer when they attempt labor with a very small chance of being successful in our facility. Because most of our patients will eventually need repeat cesareans anyway, we believe that we are getting them off to the best possible start. We are encouraging other hospitals to adopt the same policy.” The hospital is also letting go its team of certified nurse midwives, banning doulas, and banishing fathers back to the waiting room. According to Smith, “Given our new policy of cesarean birth for all women, we feel that support personnel are not needed for our patients, and simply get in the way of the physicians’ work.”

Asked about women who arrive at General unexpectedly in labor and whether they can offer informed consent to a mandatory c-section and implicitly agree to this by showing up at the hospital, Smith responded, “These women have a 75% chance of having a c-section to begin with – we all know that women are less capable of giving birth vaginally than they were just 20 years ago. We simply can’t treat unplanned patients any differently, or it would encourage women to just drop in when they’re in labor, and that would be a nightmare. We’ll bring in the machine that goes “ping,” and that will let us know they need a cesarean anyway, and proceed from there.”

At least one General patient agrees with the new policy. Consulted following her own primary cesarean, Jane Downt said, “I’ve always thought that birth would be so much easier if women’s bodies were designed differently, if they could just pop open a little panel and remove the baby. A c-section is just like that, opening a window into the body to pull the ‘bun out of the oven,’ so to speak.”

Women’s health, birth, and reproductive rights advocates, along with an aging hippie community in the city, have reacted strongly to the decision. One activist responded, “General had a very high c-section rate, and the CNMs were the only thing keeping it from reaching 100% already [the hospital banned VBAC five years ago]. They already insist that all women take home formula samples, even those who aren’t yet pregnant, keep the lights very bright, and allow women to leave the hospital without calling Child Protective Services if those women don’t plan to breastfeed. This is just another appalling new development, and it will drive women into their homes for birth.”

Smith responded, “The last thing we want women to do is give birth at home. To that end, we have proposed legislation that would ban pregnant women from being in their homes, or other homes or shelters, from week 30 of pregnancy until the birth. We believe in general that the safest way to give birth is not to do so at all, so we are working on a long-term plan to prevent any babies from being born in New York State. We just have to work out a feasible plan that will accommodate the rush of women eager to have their fertility and reproduction controlled by the State. We hope the visionaries in Washington, D.C. will take note of our leadership, and implement similar plans for the Nation.”

*Mark it on your calendar

Update: Now that the holiday has passed, I feel the need to explicitly point out that this was an April Fools’ piece, not intended so much to be funny, but to seem plausible on a quick read and play around with some of the stereotypes and extreme rhetoric that tends to surround birth discussions.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2008 8:38 am

    I’m sure this trend toward C-sections is just a way of avoiding having to get right back into the fields and pick.

  2. April 1, 2008 9:29 am

    Haha, April fool’s joke, right?
    I mean, ban women from their homes? Prevent babies from being born in NY state?
    Help me out here. It’s unbelievable, and yet frighteningly believable.

  3. April 1, 2008 9:33 am

    Tanglethis, yep – hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

  4. April 1, 2008 10:00 am

    Ya know, this was a great idea for a April Fool’s Joke but don’t go putting ideas into the wrong peoples head! I don’t want to be reading the same headline in the NY Times.

  5. April 1, 2008 10:14 am

    Thank goodness this is an April Fool’s joke– because the c-sec upward trend sure isn’t.

  6. April 1, 2008 10:27 am

    DeafMom, I have to admit that I wasn’t quite going for “funny” so much as “nearly believable, especially during a quick skim.”

    Labor Nurse, if this ever does show up as a real, serious story, you are personally invited to come kick me in the pants. 🙂

  7. April 1, 2008 10:33 am

    It really was ‘nearly believable’ until near the end. I bought it for the first few paragraphs.

  8. April 1, 2008 10:33 am


    I especially love this quote “We believe in general that the safest way to give birth is not to do so at all, so we are working on a long-term plan to prevent any babies from being born in New York State.”

    Absolutely fantastic.

    Just sk*rted this.

  9. April 1, 2008 10:56 am

    Thanks, Girl Con Queso, that’s my first sk*rt, as far as I know.

  10. gorlitsaknits permalink
    April 1, 2008 11:21 am

    You had me til the very end. Nice. Sad, but nice.

  11. April 1, 2008 11:51 am

    Consider me fooled – I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I was ready to blow my top for a while there.

  12. Whitney permalink
    April 1, 2008 12:17 pm

    Bravo! It’s not far from the truth. *shudder*
    I like your sense of humor 😉

  13. April 1, 2008 12:22 pm

    HA HA!! Imagine if this was true???

  14. outcrazyophelia permalink
    April 1, 2008 1:07 pm

    It seemed so plausible for a few moments.

  15. Elaine permalink
    April 1, 2008 7:41 pm

    Oh my goodness, I had to read that a few times before I remembered what day it is! I was so outraged at the *audacity* of this hospital that I was going to start sending the story around…. 😛

  16. April 1, 2008 7:45 pm

    I was livid. For about 10 seconds. HA!

  17. April 1, 2008 8:34 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. The post was less well-received over at Babble, where some people seemed to think that I was mocking anyone who ever needs a c-section. Just to be clear, that was not the case (although I suspect you knew that) – I just wanted to play a little with the extremes to which discussions about birth sometimes go to.

  18. April 1, 2008 8:37 pm

    And Hilary, regarding comments I know you’ve seen elsewhere, “progressively more absurd” is exactly what I was going for. 😉

  19. April 2, 2008 11:01 am

    LOL I was so close to believing this it wasn’t even funny – nice work!

  20. Student Midwife permalink
    April 4, 2008 8:57 pm

    You had me believing it for the first couple of paragraphs… until I read the part about women not being allowed anywhere but the hospital after 30 weeks. Ludicrous as it is though, I can imagine people who would think that’s a good idea.

  21. July 5, 2008 12:31 pm

    [In reference to comments I just killed]

    Marissa – no, you don’t get to come here and call me names and make comments on whether I should be “allowed” to write or reproduce. My space, my rules. If you have something constructive to add, fine, but otherwise I suggest you read the blog policies (and perhaps have the courage to leave insults non-anonymously). Further, calling people “‘tards” is insulting to both the individual and those with developmental differences. Grow up.

  22. July 18, 2008 11:38 pm

    OMG, I was about to have a heart attack! I was thinking, this must be a joke, it has to be- but for the first couple paragraphs I wasn’t sure. Something like this (except perhaps the very last part) could actually happen.

  23. Masha Zarakova permalink
    January 25, 2009 2:48 pm

    That is completely insane. This has to be a joke, right?
    I mean an entire hospital can’t have forgotten the many advantages to birthing vaginally as nature intended?…

  24. March 31, 2009 9:30 pm

    Ha! That was BRILLIANT! I would have believed it if I hadn’t followed it as an April Fool’s link from another blog. The scary thing is that it’s not too far from the truth…..

  25. April 1, 2009 5:54 pm

    Fabulous post! I hope it is not a foreshadowing. I posted on something almost as ridiculous but not a joke: All male newborns should have circumcisions. Times are a’changin.


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