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Midwifery Legislative Update aka Making homebirth legal in more states

I recently found a fantastic website called The Mommy Blawg that chronicles the intersection of mommyhood and the law.  Her latest post discusses recent midwifery legislation in Alabama, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Dakota.

She links to another great website: “The Big Push For Midwives, launched on January 24, is a coordinated campaign to advocate for regulation and licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The website includes a page with links to news articles related to midwifery-related legislative efforts, and a map of states [which I've copied below] where licensure is available or where legislation is pending. Licensure is currently available to CPMs in 22 states.”

There is also a page on The Big Push for Midwives website that lists birth resources for the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.  (Might be a good place to look if you want a VBAC and are looking for a VBAC supportive provider.)

The relevance of CPM licensure to VBAC moms?  More legal options.

From Wikipedia:

No state prosecutes mothers for giving birth outside of a hospital. However, midwives who assist at such births may be prosecuted in some areas.

In the early and mid 1900s, physicians pushed to have midwifery banned throughout the United States. Childbirth became very clinical with the mother generally subdued with leather straps and ether. In 37 states it is once again legal to acquire the services of a midwife. Many midwives continue to attend mothers in states where it is illegal, while efforts are underway to change the law.

Practicing as a direct-entry midwife is still (as of May 2006) illegal under certain circumstances in Washington, D.C. and the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.[12] However, Certified Nurse Midwives can legally practice in these areas.

People wishing to have a midwife-assisted home birth in the United States should always research the applicable laws in their home state.

I know homebirth sounds like a radical thing, but I have heard story after story of women who would have never considered a homebirth until they started looking for a VBAC supportive OB only to find none and then felt trapped, out of options, and scared.  And so now these women, who would have been quite happy to birth in a hospital, are hiring midwives, regardless of wether it’s legal in their state, and having a homebirth VBAC rather than face the alternative, an unwanted, unnecessary repeat cesarean in a ‘VBAC ban’ hospital.

I hope this is going to be one of the factors that swings the conventional wisdom back to supporting VBAC because when enough women start birthing at home and that an impact is felt in hospital revenues, hospital administrators and OBs might start paying attention.  Unfortunately, by the time that happens, it might be ‘to late’ for the hospitals.  Enough women would have experienced the joy, peace, privacy, and safety of homebirth to never want a hospital birth again.

State-by-State Legislation

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9 comments to Midwifery Legislative Update aka Making homebirth legal in more states

  • Heather cares about birth rights

    Although the Big Push for licensing CPM’s may sound nice, it leaves midwives legally bound to answer to the state vs. the woman and her family.
    In VA, midwives became licensed CPM’s, and now they are looking to take away the rights of midwives to serve 5 different groups of women: VBAC, twins, gest. diabetes, breech, and women considered obese.
    It’s not a matter of who has what certification. A woman and her family deserve the right to select the care provider of their choice whether it be a traditional midwife, a CPM, a CNM, or a doctor WITHOUT the state deciding who they can accept.

  • Gretchen

    I am researching about VBAC’s. I want one and am coming to the same conclusion…I can’t have it. I am not pregnant yet but decided I should be a little more prepared than I was the first time around. I live in SC and I cannot have a homebirth attended by a midwife certified or not. I can’t even go to a birthing center. My only option is a hospital where I am sure to be forced to have a c-section, or stay at home by myself. How is this legal. I have to sign a waiver for a surgery saying that I wont sue anyone should I or my child die, yet if I was to find out I was pregnant and told the doctor I wanted an abortion that is my choice. How screwed up is that. Sorry for the vent. I feel helpless now and am only trying to get pregnant, I can only imagine how hard this is when preparing for a birht that is immenet.

  • Jenny

    What part of SC do you live in? Check out Blessed Births in Greenville with midwife, Amy.

  • wvmom

    The first step in getting CPM’s regulated here in WV was shot down today. That’s good news for those who want a vbac! Once they are licensed here, homebirth vbacs will be a thing of the past.

  • OH midwife

    Indeed~ another SC couple’s story: desiring assistance with their vbac2, they made the trip all the way to Ohio. They had been unable to find help among midwives closer to home after an extensive search. For them, SC-licensure failed to serve them. So, they covered their needs and had a matra-centric : ) undisturbed childbirth experience far from home : (

  • Hoosier for CPM!!!

    Does anyone know the status on the legalization for midwifery in IN? My husband and I are TTC and we won’t a home birth and we’re being discriminated against by our insurance company because we want a home birth! Any advice or information?

  • Carolyn

    well, after my planned homebirth that turned c-section I learned a lot of things. one is stay out of the hospital unless you or your child are in REALLYin danger. they tend to exaggerate the severity of the situation. second, be really sure you can trust your midwife and that she has enough experience not to send you to the hospital for something that she should be able to manage. third, plan you birth at home as if you had no access to a hospital. And plan your hospital birth as if you were not having a planned homebirth. Get a doctor you can trust, go to prenatals and DON”T tell them you are planning a homebirth. that was my conclusion after going to the ICAN conference because I was so devastated. then when you have the baby at home, you can just say, oops, the baby came too quickly for me to get to the hospital. hate it so much that you have to play games in order to get what you want. that being said in some states there are really good homebirth midwives covered by insurance and some really good docs that actually support homebirths but a lot of them say they do and then give you an attitude when you transfer. that was what happened to me. read, read, read. go to meetings of International Cesarean Awareness Network.

  • cindyth

    Is having an assisted home birth legal in SC? My daughter in law and son have decided that this is what they will do if the Birthing Center’s license is not reinstated. Also, they have decided to open their home to the other mothers who live in NC to give birth in their home with the assistance of a midwife. I am concerned about the liability they will be assuming and what the legal implications of this would be.

    • Jen Kamel

      Hi Cindy!

      I do not know if out-of-hospital VBAC is outside the scope of practice of a licensed midwife/ certified professional midwife (CPM) in South Carolina. I posted your question on Facebook to get more perspective.



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