Monday, January 10, 2011

I need your help, Mississippians.

Hello friend,
You may be aware that last year, some legislation introduced in Jackson caused a bit of a stir in the “birth community.” That legislation died before the end of session. Since then, I have been very involved in forming a grass-roots organization that supports licensure of midwives. Well, the time has come: I need a few minutes of your time. Please continue to read this message – it pertains to every citizen of MS.
Legislation has been introduced in the Mississippi House of Representatives (HB207) that will require midwives in MS to be certified and register with the state of Mississippi (under the Department of Health). We are not talking about Certified Nurse Midwvies (CNMs). This pertains to midwives who do not necessarily hold a nursing degree.
The certification, administered by NARM (North American Registry of Midwives), identifies Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs). The training is similar to that of CNMs, who currently practice in hospitals. Home birth with a CPM is safe.
You may be surprised to know that many women in Mississippi do have planned home births (myself included). No matter what happens with this law, women will continue to choose to give birth at home.

What happens if the law passes?
• Currently, a dozen or so midwives practice across the state. Those that are qualified will register with the state for their license. Any women practicing as midwives that are not sufficiently trained to do so will work towards certification, move their practice to another state or no longer work as a midwife.
• Midwives will be able to develop relationships with Obstetricians and hospitals. Currently, physicians are hesitant to work with a midwife because midwives are not legally recognized as part of the health care system in MS.
• Consumers will have a process for filing grievances. The law provides for a method of policing midwives for professionalism.
• In the rare case of an emergency, when a woman or baby in a midwife’s care is taken to the hospital, a critical 15-30 minutes is saved because the midwife can provide the medical history to the physician.

What might if the law does not pass? Women will continue to give birth at home.
• Most likely, a group that opposes home birth, will introduce legislation to make midwives outside of hospitals illegal.
• If midwives are made illegal there are quite a few negative results – which are REALLY scary.
o We will lose the best midwives we have. The midwives that take this profession seriously may leave the state or close their practice.
o Without a supply of professional, skilled midwives women will give birth without anyone. I hear this all the time. “If I can’t find a good midwife, we will do it without one.”
o When a woman in labor is working with an “underground” midwife and needs to be taken to a hospital, the midwife may not accompany her (due to risk of being arrested). The hospital will waste precious time assessing the emergency.

Do you think women have the right to choose where they give birth? The only way to guarantee that right is to pass legislation that secures the place of midwives in our medical system.

There is no doubt in my mind that this law will save lives AND will prevent the stripping away of a woman’s right to choose where she gives birth.

I need your help to get this law passed. Let me know if you support HB207 – I would
love to answer any questions you have. I tried hard to keep this short, but there is so much more to tell.

Bianca Wooden
PS: Sign up for our newsletter to get updates on the bill as it makes its way through process of becoming law.

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