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High hopes dampened in Nebraska.

A Nebraska Health Department committee investigating whether to license direct-entry midwives has come out in support of licensing these midwives but with prohibitive requirements. The 407 Committee, as it is called, has been studying the issues concerning the licensing of direct-entry midwives but at its meeting in early October spelled out the requirements it would propose: midwives would have to be graduates of an "accredited" school (there is no such designation for schools that teach midwifery, and apprenticeships would not be recognized), would have to pass the test given by the American College of Nurse Midwives (which is not available to direct-entry midwives) or an equivalent (they did not say whether the test given by the Midwives Alliance of North America would be considered equivalent), and would have to pay a $1,000 licensing fee. They would also have to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation and neonatal resuscitation certification. Already practicing midwives would be grandmothered in only if they have already been practicing for 10 or more years or have attended 50 or more births, a requirement only three direct-entry midwives in Nebraska meet.

The committee was formed to address a void in Nebraska law. A 1984 law covers certified nurse midwives but makes it a felony for them to attend home births (ameodments to this law have also been proposed). It appears that directentry midwives attending births might be subject to prosecution for practicing medicine without a license, a misdemeanor with a maximum $500 penalty, but no one has challenged such a prosecution yet (a midwife was charged uoder that law in 1977 but just paid the fine, which was $100 at that time).

Huodreds spoke out to lawmakers in support of midwives and home birth earlier this year after the arrest of Karen Gourley, a direct-entry midwife. Charges were later dropped against Gourley, but efforts to legalize direct-entry midwives gained the backing of the Nebraska Women's Political Network. After a senate committee hearing on International Midwives Day this past year, the 407 Committee was formed in the Health Department to study the issues in depth. It was hoped that the committee would draft and propose legislation, but it now appears that it will stop short of that, leaving proponents of licensing for direct-entry midwives to bear the expense of writing and proposing legislation on their own. Nebraska midwives have not yet determined what course to pursue.

Supporters also sought the support of the Nebraska Nurses Association, but its members defeated a resolution to support midwives and home birth by a 10-1 margin (though they passed a resolution supporting alternative health care at the same meeting).

The 407 Committee, which comprises two obstetricians, one CNM, one direct-entry midwife, one childbirth educator, and three other at-large members (one a mortician), was scheduled to meet again October 26 as this issue went to press. We'll keep readers updated in future issues.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Nebraska Health Department gives restrictive support to midwives
Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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