Grand Forks Herald: Lack of OB services in rural areas mean women must plan ahead, travel to deliver their babies

EXCERPT: “For women in rural areas, having a baby has become more complicated than it used to be. For years, more rural hospitals have been shutting down maternity units, forcing expectant mothers in small rural and farming communities to travel longer distances to deliver their babies. It didn’t used to be this way. ‘Virtually every rural hospital in North Dakota, probably 40 years ago, was doing obstetrics,’ said Brad Gibbens, deputy director, UND Center for Rural Health. Much of the reason for the downturn in rural hospital OB care ‘has to do with demographics,’ Gibbens said. ‘You’ve had this continual decline of population in North Dakota, particularly in rural North Dakota, combined with the cost element, not only for the physician in terms malpractice and liability (insurance), but for the facilities, having to have backup services and everyone who’s trained in it. It just became cost-prohibitive,’ he said. Because of reduced access, ‘women of childbearing age today, if they’re in rural areas, really have to think ahead about where they’re going to receive care. They start to think about things like scheduling the birth or inducing the birth.'” FULLSTORY: