2015 Bills

HB202: Cracking Down on Unlicensed Midwives

This bill failed in committee.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill.

A woman clearly has the right to birth her own child. She does not need to, but may (and usually does) request the assistance of one or more people to ensure the process goes well—doctors, midwives, a husband, or friend. Midwives, of course, are quite popular, and in Utah they need not be licensed in order to offer their services to interested expecting mothers.

A midwife may elect not to become licensed in Utah for a variety of reasons: because it is restrictive, because she prefers not to be regulated by the government, because she doesn’t use drugs or practice in a manner that would require licensure, or because she views birth as a normal physiological process—and not a medical event. Whatever the reason, there are many unlicensed midwives in Utah, catering to an exploding market of women choosing to birth their babies at home.

New legislation sponsored by Representative Carol Spackman Moss aims to crack down on these unlicensed midwives. HB202 is sound in overall principle, but utterly fails in execution.

This bill would mandate unlicensed midwives to require their prospective clients to sign an informed consent form that states that:

  • the midwife is not licensed by the government;
  • the midwife’s education and qualifications have not been reviewed by the state;
  • the midwife is not authorized to carry or administer prescription medications; and
  • the risk of harm or death to a mother or newborn may be greater because the midwife is not licensed by the government.

Further, the form would have to describe the various types of midwife licenses issued by the state and the minimum qualifications for each, a plan for transporting the client to the hospital if a problem occurs, among other information.

We strongly support informed consumerism; a person hiring a midwife, landscaper, piano teacher, cook, or anybody else should due their due diligence to ensure that the individual is safe, competent, knowledgeable, and has a good track record.

But government licensure does not guarantee safety, competency, knowledge, or good service. Passing a test approved by bureaucrats is not an indicator of quality of work; plenty of government-licensed practitioners have harmed—even killed—people. What’s tragic is that the government’s role in licensure has led people to believe that their blessing is sufficient to become an informed consumer. They therefore fail to do their own due diligence, and depend upon the scrutiny (or, actually, lack thereof) of government employees.

Mandating this form would reinforce this flawed mentality, and therefore should be opposed; the government should not be allowed to coerce free people into suggesting that they are not competent, whereas those licensed by the government are. Further, this form would perpetuate the speculative and misleading suggestion that “the risk of harm or death to a mother or newborn may be greater because the midwife is not licensed by the government,” which is inappropriate. For these reasons, and despite encouraging everybody to become informed consumers, we oppose this legislation.

  • RaeannPeck

    As a home birth midwife of 35 years, I can only say you have expressed my concerns perfectly regarding this bill.  Thanks so much for speaking out.

  • JeremyCordon

    My wife and I met with one of the state’s licensed midwives today at the U of U hospital. It was our first appointment for our first child. We chose to go with a midwife because we want to avoid the hospital/government run environment that children are born into.

    During our appointment the midwife suggested prescription drugs for nausea three times even though my spouse had already solved the problem by eating a light protein rich snack every two hours. The midwife also suggested an abortion as an option and she tried to sell us tests that our insurance wouldn’t even cover. She felt like an OBGYN. 

     After this experience we are looking for an experienced unlicensed midwife. We don’t want someone that will panic when we decide to not vaccinate our one week old infant with 6 different mercury laced strains of diseases. 

     Anyone know someone in Salt Lake County?

  • Melorose

    I sent you a message on Facebook in response with my midwife’s number. If you don’t see it, look in the “other” folder in messages.

  • MeiliTurnblomTark

    I have heard many stories from those who used government licensed midwives that suggest that they are highly incompetent, including from my sister whose son has suffered ongoing sometimes serious lung problems because he was born too early. On the other hand, I have heard of many unlicensed midwives who earn high praise from their clients. I have never heard of an unlicensed midwife who was not competent. I believe that those who are unlicensed have to prove themselves by their good practice.

  • RaeannPeck

    Meili, I believe you are correct when you say we prove ourselves by good practice.  My reputation is my own, not borrowed credibility from the State.  Sadly, while I believe most midwives simply have the interest of healthy moms and babies at heart, I’m concerned by a few unlicensed midwives who present themselves as midwives without any substantial educational preparation or apprenticeship.  While I choose to be license free myself, I admit that licensure does at least require a modicum of experience and preparation.  However, in any profession, a license does not necessarily promise the highest standard of care.  But most out of hospital midwives do offer quality standard of care, I believe.  Licensed or license free.

  • skeptifemblog

    RaeannPeck but you don’t give vitamin K. Its basic preventative care for infants. 
    For those who do not know, midwives deliver far few babies in a year than obstetricians. A career average for a midwife is about the number of babies an OB delivers in 5 years or so. The numbers may look impressive but they are not if you look at the statistics.

  • skeptifemblog

    This bill would have saved people a lot of grief. I am very sad that the lack of licensing has cost the lives of infants in Utah because of unlicensed midwives like Valerie El Halta and Vickie Sorensen. It is harder to drive a car here than to become a “midwife”. I run Safer Midwifery Utah if anyone is interested in helping common sense legislation pass to save more infants and families from negligent midwives.

  • skeptifemblog

    MeiliTurnblomTark If you want to talk to me about the midwife that damaged your nephew’s health please let me know. I don’t mind putting the story out there to warn other parents about whoever harmed that sweet baby.

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