Midwifery Law Struck Down

1 decade 9 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, August 09 2007 Aug 9, 2007 Thursday, August 09, 2007 7:25:51 PM CDT August 09, 2007 in News
Judge Patricia Joyce ruled the language of the midwifery amendment unconstitutional, saying it went beyond the purpose of the original bill. Midwife supporters say it's just another chapter in an ongoing debate that started last legislative session and is not ending anytime soon.

For midwives and midwife supporters, the ruling is no laughing matter. Allison Dougherty is just starting her career as a midwife, but her future is now uncertain.

"For me this could potentially mean that I can work underground and not come out with the fact that, 'Hey I'm a midwife!.' I'd have to hide it from possibly family and friends and that's no way to live," Dougherty said.

The Missouri State Medical Association challenged the bill based on constitutional grounds. The MSMA said the bill, title "Relating to Health Insurance," did not meet the requirements of a clear inclusive title.

Doctor Elizabeth Allemann, medical director of the Columbia Birth Center, disagrees.

"I think the language in this bill was clear, and I think midwifery care is related to health insurance and it's certainly as well as related to health insurance as provisions in the bill, including a one helping physicians to collect on bad debt."

Senator Chuck Graham (D - Columbia) opposed the bill from the start.

"It violates the single subject rule of the Missouri constitution. The way Senator Loudon tried to sneak that in there was blatantly unconstitutional and I'm not surprised at all that a judge struck that down," Graham said.

Professional certified midwife Ivy White says she started fighting for the legalization of midwifery in 1990 and she's ready to take the fight to the Missouri Supreme Court.

"It's been a battle for so long," White said. "We're not about to give up now. It's the right thing to do."

Judge Joyce's ruling does not effect the rest of the health insurance bill. The midwifery amendment was scheduled to go into effect later this month.

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