Midwife licensing plan soon to become Iowa law

DES MOINES — The Iowa legislature is poised to set up a state licensing process for midwives.

Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton has led development of a midwife licensing bill.  “It’s been 11 years,” Kaufmann says. “We’re getting it done this year.”

Lawmakers say only a dozen certified professional midwives are practicing in Iowa today. Others left the state since without a license, they can’t order an ultrasound or lab work or prescribe medication while assisting in a birth.

Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat Dubuque, says at the same time, the number of home births is increasing in Iowa and midwives are assisting. “I believe it is time to pull them out of the shadows,” Jochum says, “license them so that we know what is going on and to make sure that everything is going good.”

Iowa is only of only 14 states that don’t currently license midwives. “This is going to bring Iowa into a situation where we don’t have people in the shadows,” Senator Scott Webster, a Republican from Bettendorf, says. “We’re bringing them to the front door, letting them get licensed.”

Iowa’s maternal mortality rate in Iowa has nearly doubled in the past 20 years and supporters of the licensing plan say midwives can play a critical role in maternity care. The bill passed the House over a month ago. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday on a 46-2 vote after making some changes to it. The House was expected to give the bill final approval.