The Herald Bulletin

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Editorials

June 10, 2013

Editorial: Physician role critical to midwife law

Next week, the Indiana Midwives Assocation will hold its periodic peer review for members of its statewide group. The meeting helps determine which Hoosier midwives are in good standing with the association.

The association has standards and offers education for those who supervise and care for women during a pregnancy as well as care for the newborn. While not licensed doctors or nurses, midwives typically assist in home births.Up until now, it has been illegal for midwives to be involved in home births in Indiana unless they were certified nurse-midwives and licensed by the state.As of July 1, however, there will be a mechanism for the state to recognize an additional group of midwives who routinely attend home births and who have been certified by a national midwifery organization recognized by other states. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence recently signed into law a House Enrolled Act that makes Indiana the 28th state in the nation to legalize and regulate midwives who attend at-home births.It will still be illegal to practice midwifery without being licensed by the state. Certification will come through the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.Even though the law may only impact about a dozen midwives, this law is good for women considering a home birth.But a critical provision of the law increases the oversight of the certified midwives by physicians and requires expectant mothers who plan a home birth to be seen at least twice — in the first and third trimester — by that supervising physician.The latter stipulation can help many Hoosiers accept the often misunderstood midwife concept.The Indiana Midwives Association, which stresses safe childbirths, has sought respect for its members. It has done so by working with legislators to craft this bill.Parents do have a right to decide which childbirth is best for them. But they should understand that holistic care and the birth of a child requires accountability.By demanding that physicians be involved with a midwife procedure, the state is helping to guard against potential harm to mother and child.

In summary If a woman wants a midwife to assist in her pregnancy, that should be allowed in Indiana as long as the pregnancy and birth are overseen by a physician.

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