Rep. Stanley cosponsors bill to license and regulate midwives

Rep. Stanley cosponsored H.1948/S.1332, legislation relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety. He joined Rep. Kahn and Sen. Rausch to testify in support of the bill at the Joint Committee on Public Health hearing on 5/28. The bill would require all midwives practicing in out-of-hospital settings to be licensed and carry the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential, which is earned through an accredited educational program. It would also establish a Board of Midwifery under the Department of Public Health (DPH) to oversee licensure and regulation of the profession.

Currently, there is no state oversight of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), who provide out-of-hospital birth care to approximately 500 women and their families across the Commonwealth each year, a number that is growing annually. CPMs are authorized to practice in 35 states, including all of our New England neighbors except Connecticut. Several studies (including this one) have confirmed the benefits of midwifery care for mothers and babies, including fewer C-sections, fewer post-partum complications, fewer infant deaths, fewer preterm births, fewer low-birthweight babies, and higher breastfeeding success rates.

This bill is consistent with current national and international standards for midwifery education and training. It is endorsed by every major midwifery organization as well as numerous organizations dedicated to health care access, consumer safety, human rights, and women’s rights. Ultimately, H.1948/S.1332 will give pregnant people choosing home birth in Massachusetts security in knowing that their care provider is regulated, properly credentialed, and integrated into the broader health care system.

This legislation is a modified refile from last session, which received a favorable report from the Public Health Committee in 2018. The changes for this session include mandating MassHealth coverage for midwifery care, which will dramatically increase access to these providers regardless of income, requiring two members of the Board of Midwifery to have expertise in racial health disparities, and creating a financial hardship fee waiver for CPM licensure.