An overview of obstetric and midwifery history will show one thing quite clearly: doctors don't like midwives. In fact, most doctors wish that midwives didn't exist, and they most certainly wish that they weren't allowed to practice.
For most of the past 150 years, obstetrics won. For decades, midwifery was (in America) nearly a lost art. It began to revive in the 60's and 70's, enjoyed a bit of a heyday in the 80's, and has stolidly refused to die out, even in the face of tremendous pressure from obstetricians and insurance companies.
Ideally, obstetricians and midwives would work together, referring patients to each other for the best outcome for each individual woman. Low risk cases to midwives, high risk cases to obstetricians. It could be done. It should be done if we care about cost control, best outcomes for babies, and quality care for women.
And it seems utterly out of reach. Yet again, history attempts to repeat itself. In the state of New York, the closure of a large, midwife-friendly hospital (St. Vincent's in Manhattan) has imperiled the ability of midwives to practice. State law currently requires that all midwives have formal, written practice agreements with a back-up obstetrician. With the closure of the hospital, most midwives have been unable to meet this requirement. A bill to amend the law was expected to pass easily, until it met with opposition from the American College of Obstetricians/Gynecologists. Why? Is it a safety issue? Have new studies emerged showing midwifery to be dangerous? No. ACOG is opposing the legislation on the grounds that it "has the ability to pave the way for midwives to open their own independent birthing centers."
The hubris utterly amazes.