Michigan Moms and Families Push for More Birth Options in the “Great Lakes State”
Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs)
NOT Legally Authorized to Practice in Michigan
Actively working on CPM Legislation
–> MIDWIFERY PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION
Michigan Midwives Association
Kate Mazzara, CPM
–> mazzaramidwifery at yahoo dot com
–> CONSUMER ORGANIZATION
Friends of Michigan Midwives
–> bethhawver at gmail dot com
–> ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION
Kathi Mulder, CPM
–> kathi at tcmidwife dot com
A group of midwives and leadership in Michigan began discussing licensure issues in the mid 2000’s and sent a representative to the initial meeting of the Big Push in Chicago at PushSummit 2007.
Then, following the 2008 Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) national conference, which was held in Michigan, the Michigan Midwives Association (MMA) invited to the state Ida Darragh, Chairperson of the Board of the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), to offer a legislative workshop.
Shortly after that workshop that took place in 2009, MMA formed a “Legislative Core Group” to pursue licensure for CPMs in Michigan. After much preparation, the first bill to license CPMs was introduced in the Michigan legislature in October 2011, followed by its companion senate bill the following year. Neither bill received a committee hearing before the legislative session ended in December 2012.
Meanwhile, in 2010, consumers revitalized a midwife support group that had been established years earlier but had lapsed into inactivity when the founder moved out of state. Renamed the Friends of Michigan Midwives (FoMM), the organization’s two main responsibilities are raising funds and mobilizing consumers to support licensure efforts.
In 2013, the Legislative Core Group reformed as the Coalition to License CPMs, to provide a unified, one-issue umbrella group for the diverse organizations and individuals wishing to endorse an one-issue organization.
As Coalition to License CPMs partners, MMA and FoMM both contribute members to the Coalition’s executive committee. In the spring of 2013, new versions of the senate and house bills were introduced and are currently awaiting hearings, yet to be scheduled.
The Coalition faces many challenges:
- Fundraising in a very depressed economy.
- A legislative environment that is historically actively anti-regulation, including current plans to deregulate several health care professions.
- Disagreement in the midwifery community (and consequently, among midwives’ clients) about the value of licensure in a state where many believe the practice of midwifery is “alegal.” (The myth of the “alegal” midwife is addressed here by Ida Darragh.)
- A vocal consumer opponent who led a state legislator to introduce (unsuccessful)legislation to completely reformulate and restrict the practice of Michigan midwifery of any kind.
MMA midwives Shannon Pawson and Wendy Pinter at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.
On the other hand, the Coalition also enjoys many advantages:
- A long history of a strong midwifery tradition, including a pre-CPM state midwifery credential.
- A state governor with a declared “dashboard issue” of reducing infant mortality.
- A revitalized MMA and a very strong and dedicated Coalition committee.
- Increased interest in home birth, as evidenced by rising client loads among midwives.
- Strong bill sponsors, particularly our House sponsor, himself born at home and the father of four children born at home.
- Bi-partisan support among midwives, consumers and legislators – this is one of very few legislative issues that find support among Michiganders with vastly diverse backgrounds and political and religious views.
Recent accomplishments of the Coalition include:
- A continuing strong presence in the state capital – our midwives and consumers are well-known to legislators.
- A presentation connecting the Midwifery Model of Care with reduction in infant mortality.
- A presence at Improving Birth’s Labor Day event.
- Growing connections with other advocacy groups.
House Dem Floor Leader Kate Segal with MMA midwives Kate Mazzara and Connie Perkins.
In the short term, the Coalition seeks to obtain committee hearings for the two bills in play. In the long term, the Coalition must secure funding, unify its supporters, attract more consumer volunteers, and broadcast clear and memorable messages about the benefits of licensure in the context of meeting state public health goals.