RALEIGH, NC – On February 19, a Certified Professional Midwife who would be licensed and regulated in neighboring states was arrested for performing the duties for which she is trained. Charged with practicing midwifery without a license, her practice is in jeopardy. Should it close, dozens of pregnant women will face a crisis of care. “Our focus is on the mothers,” says a fellow Certified Professional Midwife. “This is an unfortunate day for mothers in North Carolina.” It is also an unfortunate day for the taxpayers of North Carolina, as they face the potential for a huge bill as the case winds its way through the criminal courts.
Unlike the laws in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida, North Carolina law denies childbearing women access to legally practicing Certified Professional Midwives, who are specially trained as experts in the provision of out-of-hospital maternity care. Because North Carolina does not license CPMs, they remain open to criminal prosecution for unlicensed health care practice, despite the fact that they are the primary care providers for women all across the United States who deliver their babies in private homes and freestanding birth centers.
CPMs are legally recognized in 27 states, but North Carolina is one of a handful of states that explicitly prohibit their practice. The arrest of one of the state’s most experienced and well-respected CPMs has sent shockwaves throughout the home birth community, leaving pregnant women across the state wondering if their midwife will be next.
“Using the police and the criminal courts to investigate and discipline health care providers is the most costly, inefficient, and ineffective form of professional regulation possible,” said Katie Prown, PhD, Campaign Manager of The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “If this proceeds to trial the taxpayers of North Carolina are looking at hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars wasted, when a simple case review is all that is indicated.”
Despite a groundswell of grassroots support from across the state, the North Carolina General Assembly has repeatedly declined to pass legislation to license and regulate CPMs, thanks to entrenched opposition from the North Carolina Medical Society.
“It is time we stop rolling over to the bullies and special interests, manage our house the right way, and let democracy and common sense prevail,” said Russ Fawcett, Vice President of the North Carolina Friends of Midwives. “In this economy we simply cannot afford to waste resources on prosecuting midwives when we have a simple, cost-effective solution at hand—enacting legislation to license and regulate CPMs, just like our neighbors have done.”
North Carolina Friends of Midwives is a grassroots organization of advocates dedicated to promoting, supporting, and protecting access to midwifery care in North Carolina.
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Midwife supporters will be meeting in Raleigh March 2nd. Join NCFOM to stay up-to-date on this issue and to show your support for NC's unlicensed midwives.