My response to article in the Oregon Onion on whether midwifery licensure should be REQUIRED:
As a LICENSED midwife in California, I can say WHOLEHEARTEDLY that I DISAGREE with mandatory licensure.
It’s as simple as:
1. Licensure does not ensure better skilled attendants. I have seen better outcomes and better care provided by “lay” midwives than by LMs, CNMs or OBGyns. The skill is not synonymous with how many years of school one attends or how many hours one has logged at a bedside. Skill is gathered by SERVING and LEARNING by DOING. If you really want to see a good list of skilled midwives, set up some kind of midwife report card system for the state of Oregon and let the MOTHERS tell you who is good and who to run from. Here’s an example: http://thebirthsurvey.org/ DON’T leave it up to a bunch of bureaucrats to tell you who is a good caretaker for your pregnancy and birth (read: don’t let the almighty dollar tell you). Mothers are GOOD at letting people know what they think if given a good forum to do so.
2. Licensure does not ensure better outcomes for babies and mommies. While infant loss and maternal loss is devastating, remember that hospitals lose patients too. All their systems and licenses and degrees have not erased birth loss and neither will something as pithy as the licensure of midwives.
3. Licensure does not make things easier on midwives or make them less targeted for prosecution or liability. As a LICENSED midwife who has never lost a mother or baby AND who was recently convicted of a FELONY for saving a baby’s life in the absence of my supervising midwife back when I was a student, I can only plead with you from the bottom of my heart to think carefully before you put sister midwives in the line of fire. Regulation INCREASES investigation, prosecution and fear… the three worst things midwives need when we are faced with so many maternal needs and a growing client base.
WHAT WE NEED IS UNITY… Lay Midwife, CPM, CNM and MD. We need to respect one another and stop fighting amongst ourselves so we can turn full faced towards the families we serve to give them the BEST care we can by SHARING the load appropriately. Every woman deserves a midwife to give her care, and and OBGyn to give her the assurance she is safe if she needs medical experts. A mother has the right to choose how and where she is to birth and unless we hold THAT right as the primary focus, all of our work will crumble.