Midwifery Bill Meets Controversy

9 years 9 months 2 weeks ago August 02, 2007 Aug 2, 2007 Thursday, August 02 2007 Thursday, August 02, 2007 9:27:31 PM CDT in News
The legislature approved the bill this spring, but judge Patricia Joyce issued a temporary restraining order against the law about a month ago.

At the hearing today, opponents of the midwifery law said that legislators shouldn't have attached it to an insurance bill. While lawyers argued those points, further down High Street, midwives and midwife supporters rallied at the capitol.

Stephen Smith was born with the help of a midwife, but his mother, Laurel, had to travel all the way to Kansas to deliver him.

"A legal certified professional midwife is our caregiver of choice," said Laurel Smith, Friends of Missouri Midwives President. "Since we can't use one legally here, we go back to Kansas to have our babies so that we can do that legally."

"We're all here to show our support for midwives for natural birth and for really additional health care options for families in childbirth," said Steffany Hedenkamp, a midwife supporter.

Midwifery is illegal in Missouri unless the midwife is a doctor or a specifically trained nurse, working under a doctor's supervision.

"We want to be able to have a qualified professional trained midwife at our births and so that's what this legislation has to do is legalizing that part, decriminalize midwifery," said Hedenkamp.

A bill legalizing midwifery passed last session but the Missouri State Medical Association challenged the bill on constitutional grounds.

"The title needs to clearly express that subject. Whether that provision that was stuck in at the last minute violated those constitutional provisions, and that's really what the case is about," said MSMA attorney, Harvey Tettenbaum.

Joyce may rule on the case later this month. After the ruling, the losing side can appeal, which means a trip to the Missouri Supreme Court.

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