Graham Calls Midwifery Bill 'Dangerous'
The bill would have let trained midwives in Missouri practice without nursing or midwifery degrees. Democratic Sen. Chuck Graham of Columbia, who helped kill the bill, called the plan dangerous.
"I support home birth. I support nurse midwives," said Graham. "But, I think that, if someone's going to get licensed in this state to deliver babies, they ought to at least have a high school degree and some medical training before they go out there and say that they're able to do this safely."
That's why Graham opposed the bill that would have allowed lay midwives to be certified by the North American Registry of Midwives. The organization doesn't require a nursing or midwifery degree. Instead, it requires serving an apprenticeship under an experienced midwife.
Graham said that's not enough.
"I don't think, just because you watch 100 births, that makes you qualified to be a medical professional to deliver births. I can watch 100 Cardinals' games, but that's not going to make me a Major League Baseball player."
Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, an OBGYN at Boone Hospital, agreed there can be health complications midwives need to learn how to handle.
"I've done about 2,000 deliveries," she said. "And there are some random problems that you don't find with ultrasound, certain heart defects, very rarely. Just in our hospital last week, we had a child that we thought had a normal heart based on its ultrasound, and had a significant anomaly that needed ICU attention within the first minute of life."
If a future bill passes allowing lay midwives, Wilson warned legal problems could prevent them from practicing.
"Nurse midwives currently can practice," she explained. "The problem that they have is that they can't get insurance. And if the nurse midwife with medical training is unable to get insurance, I can promise you lay midwives, with no high school degree and no medical training, will never be able to get the insurance to be able to practice professionally."
Wilson said Boone Hospital had three midwives, but malpractice insurance costs don't allow them to deliver babies anymore.
The North American Registry of Midwives requires applicants to attend 40 births, in addition to other requirements. Midwives certified by the registry are recognized in 24 states, but Missouri is not one of them.