Midwifery Legalized

1 decade 6 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, May 24 2007 May 24, 2007 Thursday, May 24, 2007 2:27:01 PM CDT May 24, 2007 in News

However that didn't stop lawmakers from passing a bill that included the term.  Saint Louis Republican Senator John Loudon infuriated legislators from both parties by adding an obscure amendment to a health insurance bill.

Lawmakers did not know what the words "tocology certification" meant.  Still, both the House and the Senate passed the bill anyway, legalizing midwifery.

The practice, allowing nurse practitioners to deliver babies outside of a hospital, used to be a felony in Missouri.  When they realized what they had done, members were not amused.

"People are concerned about whether or not they will be able to trust you in the future," said Senator Maida Coleman, a Democrat from St. Louis.

The fall-out from Loudon's actions was immediate.  He lost his position as the chair of the small business committee, at least temporarily.

"I have not replaced him in that position. I did it until further notice," said Senator Michael Gibbons, a Republican from Kirkwood. "I want an opportunity to look at the transcript; I want to know for sure what was said out here on the floor."

Still, Loudon is unapologetic.

"Are we going to vote for freedom here or are we going to let a narrow special interest in the hall stand in the way of compromise? We're senators - don't forget that. We represent real people," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields proposed an amendment to repeal the midwifery bill.  Loudon countered with his own substitute amendment, which defeated shields.

Now, two options remain for the bill: the Governor could veto it, or the House could vote for a re-consideration vote and defeat the amendment.  Such a vote would have to come before Friday, when the legislative session ends.

Mary Ueland is on her way to becoming a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), and thinks it didn't make sense for midwifery to be illegal. 

"An attorney should have more important things to do like stopping drug dealers rather than worrying about midwives," she said.

Missouri is one of ten states where midwifery is illegal.  It also ranks near the bottom in the country in infant mortality rates.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase in the amount of midwives means a decrease in infant mortality.  Ueland wishes local government just needed to look at the statistics.

"It's weird to make it a criminal act," Ueland said.  "Most of world thinks it's healthy and C.D.C. has recommended it, but Missouri hadn't looked at research and accepted the times." 

In order to be certified, midwives must go through clinical medical school training, take several midwifery exams, as well as complete more than 1,300 documented hours of practice.  

Ueland says this legalization won't have a great impact on the amount of people who go through this process nor the amount of people who choose to use the service.

"Research shows that even when you legalize it, there isn't a drastic increase in the number of people who choose it," she said.  "Plus, midwifery is just not something everyone wants to do."

In most states, less than five percent use them.  Missouri is the lowest at one percent.

Still that small percentage of Missouri's population has had to hire people who would work against the law.

Ueland and proponents of the legalization want families to be able to go into a hospital and be open and honest with the charts that they have made with their midwives.

"You'll have smoother and better results when you don't have to keep records a secret," she said.  "No one wants to incriminate their midwives."

Once Ueland becomes a CPM, she wants mothers needing at-home service to be able to look in the phonebook, find her name among other midwives, and interview them in order to find the best fit.

Ueland says it's a paying job unless you just want to take care of one of your close friends.

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