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Midwifery bill awaiting action in the Missouri Senate

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate this week may take up legislation that would legalize midwifery. Senate Bill 870 would authorize the creation of a state licensing board to monitor midwives.

Last year's midwifery legislation became law after its language was inserted into a health insurance bill.

The move cost State Senator John Loudon (R, Chesterfield) a committee chairmanship, but he regained it after promising to repeal the language. He says this year's midwifery bill removes that language, but also allows midwives to practice legally.

Certainly it has popular support and it's just a question of whether there's a strong enough minority among the medical community to block it once again, or get their agents in the Senate to block it for them, Loudon said.

The Missouri State Medical Association opposes the bill. Jeff Howell, Director of Legal Affairs, says it would allow people who haven't been to medical school to perform a medical procedure: Delivering babies.

Childbirth deaths have fallen dramatically in the last 50 years, and that's clearly the result of the advancement of modern, obstetrical medicine and what this basically does is put us back into the 19th Century, Howell said.

The 2007 midwifery language was struck down by Cole County Judge Patricia Joyce. The Missouri Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the appeal, which was argued earlier this month.

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