Utah’s legislative session ended on March 5th at midnight. At a House Health and Human Services Committee meeting I attended the previous week, the seventh substitute version of SB 93 was introduced as a compromise bill between the Licensed Direct-Entry Midwives and the Utah Medical Association. It’s very frustrating that we (birthing women) would have to compromise at all, given that the current law is working and preserves our freedoms. The powerful medical lobby that is the Utah Medical Association forced us to do so.
So, what did we lose?
The two biggest losses are vaginal breech and twins. This would only be an issue if a woman is using a Licensed Direct-Entry Midwife. The bill mandates transfer, with no possibility of signing a waiver, if it’s determined that a woman is carrying a baby in a breech presentation or twins unless birth is “imminent”. In fact, it goes so far as to say that the midwife must terminate care and call 9-1-1, regardless of whether or not a woman wants this to happen. That’s what bothers me the most–women are being treated as if they are too stupid to make their own health care decisions.
Legally, since this bill does not affect unlicensed midwives, a woman could choose to transfer care to an unlicensed home birth midwife rather than a hospital care provider. I’m upset that a woman would be forced to make a choice between two potentially unsatisfactory care providers. I know that I have reasons for choosing a licensed midwife and I would feel very put out if I found myself in a situation where my only options to continue with my preferred option of home birth would be to choose a care provider that I’m not wholly comfortable with or an unassisted birth (no care provider).
Did we gain anything?
The midwives went on the record during the committee meeting to say that they will not bring forth any legislation regarding this issue until 2011, which is when the original midwifery bill was going to come up again in order to review the statistics for Licensed Direct-Entry Midwives.
The Utah Medical Association didn’t explicitly say they would not bring new legislation. They side-stepped the issue, even though a committee member asked twice about it. The Utah Medical Association representative said “It is not our intention” to run another bill, which is a nice political euphemism for “it’s possible that we might”. @@ I don’t think they’d have much political traction if they did try to run another bill next session.
We kept VBACs, with restrictions. VBAC mamas now have to have an ultrasound to determine placental placement. VBAC mamas can only have as many as two previous c-sections if they want to use a licensed midwife. Again, unlicensed midwives are not affected by this bill so they could still take VBAC mamas who have had more than two c-sections, if appropriate in a particular woman’s situation.
There was a bit of a stir over whether or not this bill passed legally. There were discrepancies between the clock the senate was using and the official time. The official time stamp for seventh substitute SB 93 is marked as 14 seconds past midnight, which means it technically is too late and should be dead. It has gone to enrolling (which is where passed bills go), so it looks like the powers that be ruled to let it stand.
Thank you to all of you who worked to preserve birth freedoms in Utah! We’re not done, yet, and will need to participate in the new rules process to let everyone know that we care about retaining our rights to give birth the way we prefer.