Expectant fathers and others are calling on government officials to reverse a ban on “birthing partners and support persons” from labor and delivery rooms at NewYork-Presbyterian’s hospitals.
A petition posted at change.org had gathered more than 150,000 signatures by Monday evening, and the NYC Midwives group warned that the restriction would lead women to give birth at home, “whether or not that is the best medical decision for them.”
“Home birth midwives have in recent days been inundated with requests for their services and will not be able to care for everyone,” the group said.
One Post reader, whose wife is due to give birth Friday at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side, called the network’s decision “the most disgusting move I’ve seen a healthcare professional/system make up to this point.”
“I’m sickened that I may not be able to be there with her and see the moment our baby is born,” he said. “I wonder how it will be enforced because [they] will need to physically stop me from being by her side during the most precious time of our lives.”
Similar sentiments were voiced by some of the people who signed the online petition, which asks Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and state health officials to intervene.
“Deployed to Iraq for 27 months. Had fellow soldiers miss the birth of their baby and seen grown men cry over it,” wrote one commenter, who identified himself as Michael Wells of Federal Way, Idaho.
“My first born is born May 2020. I’ve fought for my country’s freedom, they better show me the same respect to me as I will do whatever it takes to be in the delivery room with my wife!”
During a Monday evening news conference, de Blasio said he “had a lot of respect” for NewYork-Presbyterian but wanted to know more about its delivery-room policy because “I’m not sure what the rationale is.”
“We’re talking about an irreplaceable life moment. The moment I was in the delivery room when my kids were born was one of the most important moments in my life,” he said.
“I’m concerned about that because I think it means so much for people.”
The online petition was organized by Jessica Pournaras of Brooklyn, a federally registered doula, or non-medical birthing assistant.
A Monday update claimed that other hospitals had adopted bans similar to NewYork-Presbyterian’s, but spokespeople for those facilities said their visitation policies — which generally allow one person per expectant mom — hadn’t changed.
NewYork-Presbyterian and Cuomo’s office didn’t return requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Julia Marsh