Midwifery legislation called for in Idaho

Homebirth midwives in Idaho have asked for legislation that would put in place a licensing mechanism and give homebirth midwives the ability to offer broader services. 

According to the recent Times-News article (2/22/08):

Proponents say midwives have provided safe birthing assistance for centuries and that expanding their privileges when it comes to dispensing medications, including intravenous fluids, antibiotics, painkillers and emergency oxygen, will boost the value of their services. They say this will especially help people in less-populated areas around the state.

The debate, [Connie Wolcott, CNM] said, is especially important given that 40 percent [sic.]* of births in the U.S. are done by cesarean section. Licensing, she said, would make it easier for people to become midwives and ease what she described as a huge backlog of patients.

“As a woman, that terrifies me,” Wolcott said of the cesarean rate. “As a scientist, I am appalled.”

I agree with Wolcott.  It is terrifying to know how easily a woman can end up with a cesarean section even when she thinks she’s done all of the preparation necessary to avoid an unnecessary cesarean.  As a researcher (qualitative) and educator it is appalling to witness it happening every day in my community and across the United frickin’ States. 

And this is what the opponents had to say, according to the article:

Idaho medical doctors and nurses who testified against the bill said creating a licensing system that still allowed uncertified birth assistants to practice could confuse unsuspecting members of the public who wouldn’t know the level of training of their care provider.

Confuse the public?  Because expectant parents aren’t smart enough to check a midwife’s credentials and history of experience?  Moooooooo?

They also said that the rules would allow midwives to do things that registered nurses aren’t allowed to do on their own.

Ah, here we go.  The nurses are mad because they don’t get the same priviledges that would be extended to midwives serving a small portion of the birthing population?  They’re jealous because they’re governed by doctors whereas homebirth midwives operate independently unless obstetric back-up is needed.

I’ll be interested to see how things progress in nearby Idaho.

* The national cesarean rate (projected, 2006) is 31.1% though certain areas of the country have cesarean rates more than double the national rate.  The cesarean rate is not expected to decline any time soon.

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