To the editor:
In two weeks, the Missouri Legislature is scheduled to vote on House Bill 36, a bill to clarify the rights of a woman to choose the place of birth and her caregivers. Families choose to birth at home for various reasons: safety, comfort, family togetherness and to make the entry gentler for the newborn. They are aware that the medical literature supports this choice, indicating that it is at least as safe to birth at home as in a hospital.
Missouri is the only state to define midwifery as the practice of medicine, thereby making midwifery a felony. This felony status limits the availability of midwives and leaves families who wish to birth at home in an uncomfortable bind. HB 36 clarifies that midwifery is not the practice of medicine and eliminates the felony status of midwives in this state. As a physician who has worked with midwives, I can attest that there are two separate professions. Women and babies do best in a system where doctors and midwives work together. It is long past time to change the law.
HB 36: Nothing in Missouri law shall encroach on a mother's right to give birth in the setting and with any caregiver of her choice. This deserves the support of the full House. I urge my fellow citizens to contact their legislators and ask for their support.
Dr. ELIZABETH ALLMENN, Columbia, Mo.