Letter To California State Senate Health Committee

Stuart J. Fischbein, MD
10309 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90025



April 19, 2017

RE: Opposition to SB 457


To: California State Senate Health Committee

Dear Senator Hernandez & Colleagues:

My name is Dr. Stuart James Fischbein, California License number G52027. I am an obstetrician living in Los Angeles in the 30th Senatorial District. I provide care throughout the Southern California region and I urge you to oppose SB 457.

I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed my Ob/Gyn residency at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. I was board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology in 1989 and am a Fellow of the American College of Ob/Gyn(ACOG). I have been in active practice in southern California since 1986. I have worked directly with midwives my entire career. The first 24 years as a hospital based practitioner supporting both LMs and CNMs as a backup and consultant physician to these home birthing midwives. And for 15 years I also worked in direct collaboration with CNMs in a hospital based practice in Ventura County, CA. For the last 7 years I have worked exclusively in the home birth setting alongside a midwife at every birth. In 2010 I co-authored the book “Fearless Pregnancy, Wisdom & Reassurance from a Doctor, a Midwife and a Mom”. In 2015 I published a peer reviewed paper on home birthing with an obstetrician (1). I am a preceptor for the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, NMI School of Midwifery and the Nizhoni School of Midwifery. With this background I am uniquely qualified to give accurate and experienced testimony to the midwifery model of care and the better outcomes that come from a true collaborative model between midwife and physician, home and hospital.

Midwifery is not a lesser subset of the obstetrics. It is its own separate profession.

These are professional people, well trained in normal birthing. In fact, their model of care is far better suited to the low risk pregnant women than the standard medicalized obstetric model practiced in most hospital settings. Outcomes for similar cohorts of women cared for by midwives vs. obstetricians show consistently lower rates of intervention, induction and cesarean section leading to better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction. There is enough data in the world literature to support this statement. The British National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) has recently released a statement suggesting that at least 45% of British women would do well to birth at home. It is towards this collaborative model we should strive and not further restriction of midwives and doctors who wish to use their skill to assist women in birthing center or home delivery.

It must be keenly aware to you that, although a small percentage, the desire for California women to seek an alternative to hospital birthing is slowly growing. This is because hospitals, obstetricians and insurers have restricted reasonable choices in defiance of common sense and evidenced based medicine. If ACOG and the CMA think there is room for improvement with maternity care in California, let’s at least be honest and agree that it is not the 1% of women choosing to birth out of the hospital that is the problem. The beneficence based model of medical ethics dictates that patients be given true, not skewed, informed consent and that autonomy in decision making of reasonable choices be supported. Home birthing with a qualified practitioner operating within his or her scope of practice is a reasonable option! Coercion by any means is forbidden. That would include laws that restrict a woman’s right to decide where to give birth and who she wants to assist her.

I have supported women’s choices my entire career. When the hospital I practiced at began banning midwives, banning VBAC, banning breech and twin vaginal birthing I spoke up. However, it became clear that a small voice or reason and logic were not going to override the fears and ignorance of the powerful departments that run these institutions. In 2010 I left hospital birthing to practice the evidence supported skills I had been well trained to do in the home and birth center environment. I have spoken and written as an expert about out of hospital breech birth, twin birth, VBAC, ethics and informed consent in the media and at conferences here and internationally. While ACOG continues to support a monolithic view of how women should be delivered there is much evidence to the contrary. I would urge the legislature to consider the primary tenet of medical ethics when it considers this bill. That would be that faced with any decision, two people given the same information should not be expected to always come up with the same conclusion. Decisions such as where, how and with who to give birth should not be bullied by demonizing reasonable choices in the hands of skilled practitioners.

I believe the restrictions and amendments currently being proposed for SB457 will not benefit the women of California. The bill will restrict choice and force women into untenable decisions such as unassisted birthing or having to drive a hundred miles to find a supportive practitioner. Many hospitals have unethically restricted reasonable options under the canard of safety. VBAC, breech and twin delivery options in hospital have been severely curtailed or have completely disappeared under the “safety” argument despite quality world literature, including from ACOG and the NIH themselves, which support these choices. There is also much quality literature that shows that hospitals are not the safest places for low risk women to give birth. This cannot be selectively ignored. Often, antagonists toward these options will cite refuted studies or level C (opinion) evidence for their positions. This is not scientific, this is not ethical and this is not the foundation on which legislation that restricts liberty and choice should be based.

I urge you to consider not interfering with those of us who are qualified and within our scope of practice and choose to support these families by opposing SB 457. Your energy should be directed at improving access to care, not restricting it. Encouraging collaboration, respect and smooth transition from home to hospital does honor the pregnant women and is our ethical obligation.



Stuart J. Fischbein, MD FACOG

(1) Fischbein SJ (2015) “Home Birth” with an Obstetrician: A Series of 135 Out of Hospital Births. Obstet Gyneco Int J2(4): 00046 DOI:


Contact your senators TODAY! 

Find your California Senator here
You can read the language of the bill here

We have the Senate Business & Professions Senator names and email addresses below:

Senator Jerry Hill (Chair)senator.hill@senate.ca.gov
Senator Patricia C. Bates (Vice Chair) senator.bates@senate.ca.gov
Senator Bill Dodd senator.dodd@senate.ca.gov
Senator Cathleen Galgiani senator.Galgiani@senate.ca.gov
Senator Steven M. Glazer senator.Glazer@senate.ca.gov
Senator Ed Hernandez senator.Hernandez@senate.ca.gov
Senator Josh Newman senator.Newman@senate.ca.gov
Senator Richard Pan senator.pan@senate.ca.gov
Senator Scott Wilk senator.wilk@senate.ca.gov

What a Wonderful World-CCC’s Dr. Fischbein’s Rendition

Original Post, March 17 on  CureCervicalCancer.org

I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white

The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

(from “What a Wonderful World” Written by George David Weiss, Robert Thiele)


Bus ride through Vietnam to CureCervicalCancer Clinics.

Bus ride through Vietnam to CureCervicalCancer Clinics.

From my familiar seat on our little bus I see clouds and haze and rice paddies, too. I also see propaganda signs, tall skinny dwellings and lots of motor scooters as I gaze out the window into the Vietnamese countryside. Staring out the window keeps my eyes off the road and the swerving and honking and frequent jarring that I’ve come to expect when traveling to remote places with the Cure Cervical Cancer (CCC) team. Sanity on the road here requires inner peace and occasional outright laughter. The dance of the traffic is almost as surreal as imaging pigs can fly until a truck carrying live pigs flies by, passing us on the right….twice….and we all just crack up. What a wonderful world it is! This is my second trip with CCC to help screen for cervical disease using the “see and treat” method of visualizing the cervix with acetic acid and offering immediate cryotherapy to those with positive findings. Donating money to a worthy cause is a charitable act. Donating time is even more selfless. I cannot praise enough the fantastic group of people I was so fortunate to travel with for their energy, dedication and sacrifice. While none of us really consider our volunteer work with CCC to be a sacrifice, in actuality, it is. These lovely people put their Los Angeles lives on hold for a week to give of their time and skill for the benefit of women they have never met. Thank you to Leila, Rebecca, Julia, Phorum, Alborz and, of course, Dr. Gordon.

For me, volunteering to use a simple skill learned a long time ago to make a difference is very easy, yet very rewarding. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of cervixes in my 35 years as a physician. Determining negative from positive is not rocket science and yet, teaching and reaffirming these skills to the local doctors and nurses makes a huge difference in the lives of the women and families who access one of the 7 CCC clinics in the northern part of Vietnam.

Dr. Fischbein announcing a successful “See and Treat” procedure on a young woman to the excitement of Dr. Gordon and the CCC team

Dr. Fischbein announcing a successful “See and Treat” procedure on a young woman to the excitement of Dr. Gordon and the CCC team

We were greeted each day with a cup of green tea as a welcoming tradition as we said our hellos to the directors in front of a bust of Ho Chi Minh and a mural of Lenin and Marx. Pretty much the only obvious reminder we were in a communist country.

Members of the CCC team in Hoanh Bo Clinic in Vietnam

Members of the CCC team in Hoanh Bo Clinic in Vietnam

I was really impressed by the knowledge, skill, and efficiency of the medical personnel. I was also moved by the women who came from long distances to be seen by the American team and who were almost giddy to take selfies with us. How things have changed from my memory of Vietnam growing up in the 60s!

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

The area around Halong Bay, famous for its exotic rock formations in the sea, is having a construction boom as the country embraces a limited amount of capitalism. Admittedly, the locals benefit mainly from the jobs and the tourism but it’s a start. They could use some wider roads with lane markers and rules but then it wouldn’t be quite the adventure. A real life Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride dodging scooters and buses, the occasional ox or cow and even a truck full of pigs, passing on the right! These are the funny fleeting twitter moments. What I will remember long after those are my amazing teammates, our wonderful ground partner Vu, translator, Han, my colleagues Dr. Dzung and Dr. Ha and the relieved and happy faces of all the local women who will never suffer from a 100% curable disease.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky

Are also on the faces of people going by

I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do

They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know

And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world


Pictured here from left to right: Julia Scott, Dr. Fischbein, Rebecca Lepsik RN, Vu

Pictured here from left to right: Julia Scott, Dr. Fischbein, Rebecca Lepsik RN, Vu

Thank you CCC for the opportunity to serve.

With affection,

Welcome Blyss!

stuart fischbein blyss young birth

We are excited to announce, Birthing Instincts family is growing. Blyss Young, LM, CPM has joined the team. 

With many of our clients, Blyss will work closely with Dr. Fischbein as part of his collaborative approach to maternity care. Midwives have a vast sum of knowledge on pregnancy, normal birth, breastfeeding and postpartum care that supports the Birthing Instincts model of the combination of obstetrician and midwife as the best model of care for most pregnant women.

Blyss will also be offering childbirth education classes and as well as placenta preparation. 

"As his student I was blessed to be trained in breech and twin deliveries. Along with many other cases that would be considered out of the scope for midwives." Blyss said.  

"It's such an honor and a blessing to learn from and now work side-by-side with a provider who with integrity walks the talk of TRUE informed consent."

In 2006 Blyss co-founded and operated The Sanctuary Birth & Family Wellness Center, the first of its kind offering a full spectrum center where midwives, doctors and other holistic practitioners collaborated to provide thousands of Los Angeles families care during the prenatal and postpartum periods.

Longing for an intimate traditional midwifery practice similar to the ones that had supported her 3 pregnancies, Blyss closed the center in 2015 allowing her to pursue yet another long held dream of becoming a midwife herself. 

You can find more information Blyss's work by visiting her websites, Birthing Blyss and Just Placentas then follow her on Facebook.

2016 Birthing Instincts Year in Review

As the new year begins it is always fun to look back on the year that was. 2016 was another busy year for Dr. Stu and the Birthing Instincts team. In January Dr. Stu traveled to Sedona, AZ for the Indie Birth Conference speaking on both breech and twin delivery skills. In February, he spoke about vaginal breech delivery at the OB/Gyn lecture series at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. In the spring, Dr. Stu was a guest of Gena Kirby’ s, “Blog Talk Radio” and appeared as a guest on “The Birthful Podcast” episode #64. He spoke on breech at the Good Life Academy and was joined by colleagues Emiliano Chavira, MD and Jen Kamel of VBACfacts for a panel discussion on VBAC sponsored by ICAN of Santa Barbara.

Dr. Stu was fortunate to get away briefly to Amsterdam for their first annual breech conference. You can read about what he learned on the blog pages of our website. It was a very affirming trip with some new research presented on upright breech delivery. Upon his return he was honored by the Human Rights in Childbirth and the Association for Wholistic and Newborn Health organizations with the “Most Audacious” award. He participated in a panel discussion at Bini Birth and gave grand rounds at California Hospital & Medical Center both on breech birthing options. Dr. Jay Warren had Dr. Stu on his Healthy Births, Happy Babies Podcast just before Thanksgiving.

While the fight for informed consent and birth choices goes on, and there was some distressing news with the banning of breech births at Glendale Adventist Medical Center and a hospital in Fort Wayne, IN., we are looking positively towards 2017. Dr. Stu will be a guest lecturer at the online Gold Midwifery Conference and he plans to publish a paper on the home birthing of breeches and twins in the coming months.

Dr. Stu’s Podcast said farewell to our friend and co-host Brian Whitman and welcomed Kimberly Durdin on board. With our crazy schedules we still plan to put out podcasts as often as we can. Our midwifery student, Blyss Young, graduated and passed her NARM exam, yay Blyss! And we welcomed Katie and Catalina, two new students, to the Birthing Instincts family.
Finally, Dr. Stu and all his staff want to express their gratitude to all the mothers and fathers and birth professionals who have supported the Birthing Instincts mission. Your trust is heartfelt and provides the sustenance that keeps us going at all hours of the night. Thank you!

We have included the 2016 Birthing Instincts Statistics for you to review. Comments & questions welcome and can be addressed to info@birthinginstincts.com

2016 Statistics

Total Clients in care: 51
Transfer of Care prior to labor (TOC): 5

Twins, 41 weeks, pregnancy induced hypertension – successful induction
VBA3C, 42 weeks, LGA – scheduled cesarean
Breech, SPROM x 5 days, No Labor - cesarean
Twins, 34 weeks, Cholestasis - cesarean
Breech, 41 weeks, Dr. Fischbein OOT – vaginal breech birth at California Hospital

Deliveries: 46      (Where the primary responsible practitioner is Dr. Stu)
Vaginal: 40 (Rate 87%) (Home Success Rate 82.6%)
                  Primips: 32 (Includes 1st time mothers and VBAC mothers)
                  Multips: 14
                  NSVD: 14
                  Vacuum Assisted VD: 4
                  Twins: 12 (7Vertex/Vertex, 4 Vertex/Breech, 1 Breech/Vertex)
                  Singleton Breech: 5 
                  VBAC: 3
                  VBA2C: 0
                  VBA3C: 1
Transports: 8 (Rate 17.4%)
                  Cesarean: 6 (Rate 13%)
                  Vaginal: 2 (Breech)
Summary: 51 clients entered into care in 2016, many late in their pregnancy because of newly discovered breech position or beyond 42 weeks or at the request of a midwife with a laboring client. Five of these women developed problems prior to labor and so their care was transferred to a hospital based physician. Of the 46 remaining, 40 delivered vaginally, 87%, including 50% of breech labors at home. Overall home success rate including VBAC, twin and breech deliveries was 82.6%. The transport rate was 17.4%. There were no newborn transports. One mother was transported postpartum for hemorrhage. Dr. Stu was also called to 5 deliveries postpartum to assist the midwife in a repair of a laceration. We assisted birth in 7 counties and continue to act as a consultant to many California midwives to answer questions or perform ultrasound and fetal testing. Birthing Instincts, Inc. is honored to be of assistance and provide these services to the families that desire them, wherever they may be.