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New midwifery legislation in Florida.

On Tuesday, March 10, 1992, after a heated debate, legislation that would reopen licensing for direct-entry midwives passed the Florida House of Representatives 93 to 23. On Thursday, March 12th it passed the Senate 33 to 1, no one spoke against the bill, and the physician senator, whose amendment restricted the practice in 1984, voted for the bill. It was a long-awaited victory.

This legislation now goes to the Governor for his signature. Governor Lawton Chiles has two grandchildren who were delivered by Licensed Midwives, and he has maintained strong support for this program as a means of increasing access to well-qualified maternity care providers.

Florida's Midwifery Practice Act requires the completion of a three-year academic and clinical training program. This program is patterned after the European model for direct entry (non-nurse) midwifery education and will meet the core competency requirements of the major midwifery organizations in the United States: the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) and the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). After training, applicants must pass a state licensing exam, and the rules and scope of practice will be defined and overseen by the Florida Department of Professional Regulation.

This new law, which takes effect on October 1, 1992, also includes provisions allowing:

--- Medicaid reimbursement to Licensed Midwives for the prenatal and postpartum care of eligible mothers.

--- Licensure by endorsement for midwives trained in other countries or states, who can demonstrate substantially equivalent training, following a four month pre-certification course and passage of the state licensing exam.

---Availability of malpractice insurance for Licensed Midwives through the Florida Medical Malpractice Underwriters Association.

Furthermore, it changes the penalty for practicing without a license from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

Now, in revising the Midwifery Practice Act (F.S. 467) the legislature again "recognizes the need for a person to have the freedom to choose the manner, cost and setting for giving birth." Furthermore, "the Legislature finds that access to prenatal care and delivery services is limited by the inadequate number of providers of such services and that the regulated practice of midwifery may help to reduce this shortage."

Passage of this legislation enables the practice of licensed midwifery to continue and expand in Florida, and allows the Licensed Midwife to help resolve the maternity care crisis.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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