David Stokes

Those of us here at the Show-Me Institute have strongly supported the midwife legislation passed by the legislature. The various reasons for this were generally simple: Responsbile adults should have the right to choose who will assist them in the birthing process. To this end, the final legislation that made it through was great (how it made it through is another issue) — a simple rule allowing midwives certified by a national organization to work in Missouri. However, from this article in the Springfield News-Leader, it appears that Missouri midwifes might be looking a gift horse in the mouth, to use a related medical term:

This year we proposed a bill that would set up a comprehensive licensure board, modeled after many other states, for Certified Professional Midwives.

CPMs go through thorough [sic] pregnancy and birth education (the academic portion of their work takes two to six years) and rigorous training (including 1,350 clinical hours one-on-one with a senior midwife and attending a minimum of 40 births, 20 where they must act in the primary role under supervision in an out-of-hospital setting). Then CPM applicants sit for an eight-hour written exam and pass a skills assessment.

The bill would have allowed midwives with CPM certification to apply for a Missouri license. It would provide a regulatory mechanism to investigate and, if necessary, punish a midwife just as the Missouri State Board of Nursing does.

I hope that midwifes do not continue to push for this legislation in future sessions. As the world of government grows and turns, it appears that midwifes want to be regulated just as much as the doctors who fought against them are — and for the same reason every existing group likes its own certifications. That reason is to make it harder for newcomers to perform the same job, and to diminish competition. Being that midwifes haven't even been allowed to start competing yet, it is unfortunate that they seem to be already trying to get a midwife monopoly going.

There are other amusing items in this article. How about the above line that learning to be a midwife can take up to six years? Why would you not just be a doctor if you are going to study obstetrics for six years? There is always a medical school somewhere willing to take you. Just as good is the description of the fear those using midwives have been living under:

For the first time in 48 years, mothers won't have to tell their midwives to "park behind the barn" or worry that their home birth will be interrupted.

Birth being interrupted?  Do the cops bust in on midwives at home births like they are raiding a crack house?  Perhaps, since midwifery mostly occurs in rural Missouri, a meth lab metaphor would be more appropriate.

This is a good law that was passed to allow midwifery in Missouri. We don't need silly exagerations by midwives to prove their point. And we certainly don't need them, now that they have achived their goals, to try to practice the same exclusive regulation as other occupational groups.

Sarah Brodsky also contributed to this entry.

About the Author

David Stokes
David Stokes was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute from 2007 to 2014 and was director of development from 2014 to 2016.