Missouri legalized Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in 2007, and the law was upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2008. The Supreme Court issued a statement that physicians groups have no standing to challenge the midwife law and that they have no standing to speak on behalf of the families who choose midwives. Now only nine remaining states prohibit midwifery by law.
In Feburary 2011, House Bill 301 was introduced to license CPMs. This bill would, among other things, require midwives to be overseen by physicians, and it would require home birth families to permanently and publicly record their birth choices with the state. The Missouri Midwives Association opposes this bill on the basis that it would restrict midwives from practicing, and would violate the rights of families.
In March 2011, two more bills were introduced to license midwives. House Bill 887 would license midwives under the Board of Healing Arts. Physicians on the board would decide what qualifications would be required for midwifery practice, and which women would be good candidates for home birth. Missouri Midwives Association opposes HB887 because the midwives would be overseen by the Board of Healing Arts. Midwives do not practice medicine. Midwifery is a separate and distinct profession and should have its own licensing board as do other professions.
Also in March, Representative Thomas Long filed House Bill 894, which sets up a midwife licensure board under the Missouri Division of Professional Registration. That is where all of the licensing boards are housed, including physicians, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, pharmacists, etc. Missouri Midwives Association supports HB894 as a reasonable compromise between the current law (which is working fine) and the horrendous midwife licensure proposals outlined in HB301 and HB887.
MMA does not oppose licensing for midwives. We do, however, oppose any legislation that would interfere with the ability of families to freely choose where and with whom they give birth.