American Association of Birth Centers

Legal Definition of Birth Center

Whereas: The American Public Health Association has adopted Guidelines for Licensing and Regulating Birth Centers which states that a birth center is:

"Any health facility, place or institution which is not a hospital or in a hospital and where births are planned to occur away from the mother's residence following normal, uncomplicated pregnancy," and

Whereas: The definition of Birth Center adopted by the APHA does not represent any attempt to regulate medical practice in doctors' offices, rather to stipulate that if a birth facility of any kind is incorporated in or added to a physician's office - that birth facility shall be defined as a birth center and be subject to regulation of same, and

Whereas: In several states, births are being attended by physicians in their offices without benefit of regulations or any standards for safety, and

Whereas: Health Departments have a responsibility to the public that supersedes the interest of any vested group, and

Whereas: If care during labor and birth, other than in the woman's usual place of residence, is to be regulated for one health care provider or health care facility, it must be regulated for all health care providers and facilities regardless of corporate status, professional privilege or institutional investment.

Be It Resolved That: The policy and position of the American Association of Birth Centers shall be that, in order to assure the safety of the childbearing public, any health facility, place, professional office or institution which is not a hospital or in a hospital and where births are planned to occur away from the mother's residence following normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, should be regulated as a birth center.

Adopted by AABC Board of Directors: November 11, 1983

A Word from Dr. Charles Mahan

"In the birth center, the family actually gets the best chance of having the pregnancy and the birth move along on an easy schedule without the stress, worry, and the intimidation that can occur in a hospital."

-Charles S. Mahan, MD, FACOG