First, a mini history lesson:
A few years ago, a group of direct entry midwives (DEMs) came to the state of Utah requesting licensure. You see, while their practices weren't illegal, they weren't "legal" in a way that their practices had state approval either. This year, with the Big Push for Midwives, midwives are trying to get protective legislation in more states, but with what I witnessed yesterday, I wonder if women are really benefiting from midwifery legislation.
The problem with licensure is that once you ask for it, you get regulations. Earlier this year, it was propsed that Utah's Direct Entry Midwife bill be amended- making it illegal for a DEM to attend a breech, VBAC, or a birth with multiples. After some "compromising" the midwives gave up fighting for breech and multiple gestations, and are limited in what sort of VBACs they can attend. One of the main arguments made was that CNMs can't attend those births without a physician, so DEMs shouldn't be able to.
That was all in February- I listened to the debates online yesterday before I went to the meeting so I would have an idea of what was going on.
Yesterday's meeting was with the Rules Commitee- they were going through the bill and deciding what should be brought up at next year's State Senate session. The Committee was made up of an OB/GYN, 2 CNMs, and 3 DEMs. Let me tell you something- if you want to do something, don't go through a committee. It started almost 15 minutes late and the first half hour was a discussion on when they should meet next (September 4th, it was decided). There were also introductions at the beginning where they went around the room and everyone introduced themselves. There were many licensed and unlicensed midwives in attendance, a representative from ACOG, a representative from ICAN, and the rest of us were representing the general public. I want to say a representative of the UMA was there, but I don't remember exactly. After 1/3 of the time was spent introducing everyone and planning the next meeting, they finally got to talking about the bill. It was so frustrating- I hope that my presence didn't say that I'm backing the midwives- because I don't agree with what's going on at all.
What frustrated me the most was that there we were in a meeting- deciding what choices women can have in the future. NO ONE should be able to decide they have other people's agency in their hands- but they do. The midwives just completely gave up about women's rights and were discussing little bits of formalities and wording in the bill. One midwife in attendance- representing general public- came a long way to this meeting to bring up the fact that the mandatory referrals to a physician in certain cases (breech, multiples, etc) were difficult in her area because the physicians wouldn't take on a woman who had been planning a home birth. While this is a legitimate concern, she stated that "These [VBACs, breech, multiples] births aren't my bread and butter" implying that she wasn't too concerned about losing those women in her practice because they aren't the majority.
It's that sort of attitude that bothers me. It bothers me that a pregnant woman is just a walking dollar sign- to OBs and midwives. These are women. Living, breathing, loving human beings- not revenue! It's like the midwives are just happy that they can practice and don't care that women are being prevented from choosing the care they want. It doesn't matter that those women are the minority- they are still important human beings.
Early on in the meeting, the OB/GYN in the committee said that he feels that the rules and bill should be minimal- that less is more. Of course they all agreed, but they continued doing just the opposite. As I was sitting there, I came up with a great bill that fit his "minimal" criteria.
Women of Utah and the rest of the United States, if I could make a bill concerning birth, it'd say this:
A woman has the right to choose to birth wherever, whenever, and with whomever she wants. She has the same right in choosing prenatal care.
I think that covers it. It definitely takes care of the "CNMs can't attend these sorts of births, so DEMs shouldn't" case. With this, everyone can if that's what the mother wants. It just seems so logical to me that women should be able to birth where they want to.
Why do committees feel that they can take a woman's rights away from her? It's not constitutional to determine where and with whom a woman has to give birth. All these darn laws should be demolished. Instead of getting protective legislation, the Big Push should focus on birth choices in general, because I think that getting state licensure is really just hurting women.
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. -Sir Barnett Cocks