Birth Center Room

The Right to a Midwife

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We’re fortunate in the State of Utah to have a very welcoming birth culture. The laws are such that parents have the right choose where they birth and who attends their birth. Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) are recognized as valid healthcare professionals who specialize in out-of-hospital birthing. They have earned this respect after much time and effort learning the art of midwifery. 

A Pretty Great State

Utah has a great thing going. The state requires licensed birth centers to disclose the experience level of each midwife. The state does not step on the rights of parents and does all that it can do to help expecting parents choose a safe provider.

What a Midwife Is

Certified Professional Midwives are trained and credentialed to offer expert care, education, counseling and support to women for pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. They have particular expertise in out-of-hospital settings. CPMs practice as autonomous health professionals working within a network of relationships with other maternity care professionals who can provide consultation and collaboration when needed. 

What a Midwife is Not

A CPM is not a Physician or a Certified Nurse Midwife. A CPM may defer to one of them for consultation or transfer. Upon request, a list of conditions indicating the need for consultation, collaboration, referral, transfer (or mandatory transfer) may be provided. Should a transfer be required in the best interests of mother and baby, they will be transported to the nearest hospital if the need is emergent. If the need is non-emergent, they will be transferred to the hospital of the parent’s preference.

An Unfortunate Case

Last month a CPM, Elizabeth Catlin, was arrested for providing midwifery care to women in Yates County, New York. In that state the legislature has not recognized the validity of licensed CPM credentials. New York is among 20 states that do not recognize the certified professional midwife credential offered by the North American Registry of Midwives – a credential held by Ms. Catlin. Sadly, there is a whole Mennonite community in Yates County grieving because they have been denied the midwife of their choice. 

A Basic Human Right

Perhaps the New York state legislature has forgotten that giving birth is a normal life event. The Mennonite people know this. They want the right to be treated as low risk when, in fact, their state of health indicates that they are. They simply want the right to choose where they birth and who attends their birth. It’s an issue Mennonite elder Ivan Martin calls “a humanitarian crisis.” “To us,” he said, “it seems basic human rights are at stake.”

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