High-Touch, Low-Tech: ‘Genius’ meets Justice

Continuing right along in Empowered Birth Awareness Week, I’d like to highlight the amazing work of Ruth Lubic, who, in 1993, used the $375,000 “Genius” Award from the MacArthur Foundation to found a health and birth center in Washington, DC, which, at the time, had some of the nation’s highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

In the family birth center’s own words:

In 2011 our midwives assisted in the births of almost 250 babies. Our Cesarean section rate is just over 16%, way below the national average of 34%, and only 5% of babies were born preterm. Our facility is top-of-the-line and our outcomes are excellent. We have comfortable birthing rooms that include the option of water births.

one of the rooms at the birthing center.

More than just a birth center, the DFC of DC offers healthcare that’s truly comprehensive and more-or-less a one-stop shopping experience, with “family centered women’s and children’s health care, child care services, family resource and support services, confidential counseling, and adult education.”

What I find so impressive about this project is that it is focused on serving people who are at highest risk for poor birth outcomes–regardless of their ability to payand that it emphasizes evidence-based care as opposed to the medical model that too frequently puts convenience and efficiency for the hospital ahead of what’s best for women.

Moreover, it returns agency to women and their growing families in the context of community-based, holistic care–which, I think, gets back to what successful childbirth was always about.

If pain and fear in childbirth is a sign of the brokenness of the world, this work in DC (and similar work elsewhere) is most certainly New Creation work.

Thanks be to God for Ruth Lubic, who has used her gifts to empower women at risk.




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