Midwifery supporters file appeal on permanent restraining order

Friday, August 24, 2007 | 3:19 p.m. CDT; updated 1:26 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Several supporters of midwifery filed an appeal with the Missouri Supreme Court on Thursday in the latest blow in the fight to legalize the practice in the state.

The filing by the Friends of Missouri Midwives, Columbia Community Birth Center and several individual supporters of midwifery in Missouri appealed a permanent restraining order issued on a portion of HB 818. That bill would have made the practice of midwifery by certified professional midwives legal in Missouri for the first time since 1959, according to Mary Ueland, grassroots coordinator for Friends of Missouri Midwives.

The permanent restraining order, issued by Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce on Aug. 8, prevented the law from taking effect on Aug. 28.

Joyce wrote that midwifery’s inclusion into the bill on health insurance “changed the original purpose” of the law. “Since the midwife provision bears no relationship to portability or accessibility of health insurance,” Joyce wrote, the provision could not be upheld.

Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, who added the midwifery provision to the bill, defended his inclusion of the provision.

“Health insurance is about access to health care, nothing else. And allowing the public access to additional providers fits right in (to health insurance issues). I thought it was a perfect fit,” he said when reached by phone Friday afternoon.

“I think it’s crazy that we’re the only place in the world that makes (midwifery) a felony,” Loudon said. “We should be giving pregnant women every comfort and option they desire, rather than let the doctors and the politicians dictate their options.”

He said he expects a favorable ruling.

“I feel really good about our chances before the Supreme Court,” he said.

Ueland, with Friends of Missouri Midwives, agreed that midwifery should be included in the bill and said the Supreme Court “would find it constitutional.”

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