Calls for Support of Birth-Related Legislation at State and Federal Levels

February 26, 2010

A bill has passed in the Mississippi House that could effectively make  midwives who are not also trained as nurses illegal in the state. The bill states that “the practice of midwifery shall only be conducted by Certified Nurse Midwives; to provide that any person who is not a Certified Nurse Midwife who engages in the practice of midwifery shall be subject to criminal penalties and injunctive relief.”

The bill would make it illegal for Certified Professional Midwives — midwives who who are specially trained to deliver babies in out-of-hospital settings– to practice.

Right now, the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) categorizes the current situation in Mississippi for non-nurse midwives as “Legal by Judicial Interpretation or Statutory Inference” – in other words, interpreted to be legal but not explicitly provided for in the current law.

The organization provides some documentation from the previous MS Attorney General who concluded in 1991 that, “By its express terms, the practice of medicine as defined in Miss. Code Ann. Section 73-25-33 specifically excludes the practice of midwifery. Thus, it is the opinion of this office that those persons otherwise not licensed as nurses may engage in the practice of midwifery without licensure as a physician and for compensation.”

The current bill, which would add language to explicitly make non-CNM midwives illegal, passed the state House on February 9th and has been referred to Public Health and Welfare committee in the state Senate, whose members bill opponents are contacting. That committee consists of: Hob Bryan, Chairman; Alan Nunnelee, Vice-Chairman; Terry C. Burton; Eugene S. Clarke;Bob M. Dearing; Joey Fillingane; Hillman Terome Frazier; Billy Hewes; W. Briggs Hopson III; John Horhn; Cindy Hyde-Smith; Gary Jackson; Kenneth Wayne Jones; Tom King; Chris McDaniel; Nolan Mettetal; Willie Simmons; Bennie L. Turner; Lee Yancey. Contact information for each Senator is linked from this Senate roster.

MANA is encouraging supporters of Certified Professional Midwives who live in Mississippi to contact their state Senators. Tell them that you do NOT support making Certified Professional Midwives illegal, and ask them to vote NO on HB 695.

In other birth-related legislative news, the American Association of Birth Centers is asking supporters to contact their Senators and Representatives to support the Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act (H.R. 2358 / S. 1423). For further information, see our previous post.

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