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Missouri: Judge Strikes Down Provision for Midwives

A Circuit Court Judge in Cole County, Missouri struck down a new provision that would have eased state restrictions on midwifery. The provision was part of a new law that makes health insurance more affordable to Missourians. Under the new policy, certified professional midwives would have been able to help women give birth at home without assistance from a physician.

Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce ruled that the bill was unconstitutional only because it violated the state’s legislative process. Under Missouri law, every bill must address only one subject and that subject must be clearly expressed in the title of the bill; state senators complained that they did not understand the provision because it used an obscure word (“tocological,” which refers to obstetrics) and because it did not relate to health insurance. According to the provision’s sponsor, State Senator John Loudon (R), health insurance cannot be separated from health-care access and insurance because women must have options in childbirth, the Kansas City Star reports. Sen. Loudon has also been accused of slipping the provision in without disclosing it to the rest of the State Senate.

While the provision was permanently enjoined due to technicalities in the Missouri State Legislature, doctors’ organizations, including the Missouri State Medical Association, the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, and the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society, successfully sought a restraining order against the bill in July. A coalition of pro-midwifery groups has been critical of these organizations and their work with the American Medical Association to “raise more money to fight this law,” Mary Ueland of the Missouri Midwives Association said. “Why is it that they fail to see the midwifery provision’ is indeed related to the underlying health insurance bill, when we know the Missouri Supreme Court has already ruled that health insurance and health services are closely related and interdependent on the other.”

The Missouri Midwifery Supporters and Sen. Loudon have both indicated that they will seek an appeal to the injunction.

Sources:

Missouri Midwifery Supporters release 8/9/07; AP 8/8/07; AMA News 8/10/07; Kansas City Star 8/8/07; Post-Dispatch 8/9/07; Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 8/10/07

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