Blunt backs new legal protections for midwives

Thursday, June 21, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Matt Blunt said Thursday that he backs new legal protections for midwives.

Blunt signed a bill into law June 1 that expands private health insurance options and allows certified midwives to legally work in Missouri.

But Blunt held the signing ceremony on short notice away from the Capitol and, in a new release, touted only the insurance provisions. His office would not directly say whether he also supported the midwives provision.

Asked about the issue Thursday at his first Capitol news conference this month, Blunt again first touted the health insurance provisions but said he also backed the midwives measure.

"I am a supporter of what we've done in terms of allowing some people to make that choice and decide to use a midwife," Blunt said.

Under current Missouri law, midwifery is a felony crime, punishable by up to seven years in prison, when practiced by anyone other than certain nurses working in collaboration with physicians.

Efforts to legalize other midwives had been blocked by Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia.

But Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, slipped the midwife provision -- using obscure language -- into the health insurance bill and did not publicly acknowledge what he had done until the bill had been passed by both chambers.

The bill says that regardless of the current felony statute, anyone with a "tocological certification," meaning in obstetrics, from a group accredited by a specific private organization can provide services related to pregnancy.

Midwives bill is HB818.

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