The old adage “the operation was a success, but the patient died” is never more true than when government gets into the healthcare business. The restrictions on midwives were and remain an excellent example.
Ever since the first licensing laws were passed well over a century ago, healthcare in America has not been part of a free market. Those laws were passed with pressure from one group of medical professionals to give them protection from competition. The laws had little to do with protecting patients’ health, and nothing to do with protecting their freedom to choose among medical practitioners.
Licensing laws were successful in killing the competition from midwives, but at the same time they harmed new mothers and their babies. Minority communities were especially affected, because they were denied the choice of alternative, less expensive, healthcare providers who were forced from business by the new regulations.