Hooray for Washington & Idaho

By Tine Reese

September 16, 2009

homebirth-victoryIt wasn’t until recently that I realized how lucky we are to live here in the Inland Northwest. Did you know that Washington and Idaho are helping pave the way toward national regulation and licensure of midwives by legally authorizing Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to practice in our states? Idaho passed this legislation just a few months ago in April of 2009. Visit the Idahoans for Midwives website to read about the journey to victory in that state. There are still 24 states in America where CPMs are not legally authorized to practice, including much of the Midwest and the South. Many of those states are currently working to change their laws, mostly through the efforts of grassroots advocacy groups.

The Big Push for Midwives is working to effect change at the organizational, community, and policy making level by pushing to pass laws licensing CPMs nationwide and incorporating them into the state and federal healthcare infrastructure. “The Big Push is meeting the needs of moms and dads in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico who are working tirelessly to push back against the attempts of the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists to deny American families access to more birth options and access to midwives’ care in out-of-hospital settings.” I’m very excited about the efforts of The Big Push and hope that we can effect national legislation soon.

Washington is also setting a great example for the rest of the US by allowing home births to be covered by insurance, proving that it is more cost-effective for the state and for the families who receive prenatal care from midwives. In Washington state all births—including home births attended by midwives—can be covered under any insurance plan, including Medicaid. This is not the case everywhere in the U.S., making the home-birth option unaffordable for many pregnant women and their families. As Miriam Perez writes for RH Reality Check, in Washington state, “around 45% of out-of-hospital births attended by midwives in the state are Medicaid births. Midwifery care becomes accessible for all women, and makes good economic sense, when we ensure safe and regulated care through licensure. A cost-benefit analysis performed by the Washington Department of Health showed that licensed midwifery care saves the state $3.1 million per biennium.”

I am hopeful that these statistics, as well as those from around the world that show home birth to be as safe as hospital birth, will soon reach the masses and all women will be armed with the information they need to have a home birth if they should choose one. If you know someone living in a state where it is not legal for CPMs to practice, please tell them about The Big Push for Midwives so they can become involved in their state’s advocacy efforts. When enough of us stand up and demand the right to have safe and affordable midwifery care, legislators will have to take notice!


There already was a law, even two, in Idaho allowing for this, w/o licensing costs. I helped write the 2004 one.

WA is regulation-manic and over controlling.

Licensing really does not protect the public, it is a control and revenue generating mechanism for the state and sets up up to be controlled by Big Insurance so you can do costly 3rd party billing.



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