New York may soon join fifteen other states in removing a key barrier to independent midwifery practice — the requirement that all midwives must have a physician or hospital-signed practice agreement.
Midwifery proponents claim that the requirement unnecessarily hinders nurse-midwives, who are educated to provide independent midwifery care, which includes consultations with other professionals, such as OB/GYNs. Increasingly, midwives say, physicians have become reluctant to sign such agreements, citing liability concerns. Removing the requirement would free midwives to practice anywhere within the state, even rural areas with little physician presence. It may also decrease costs, as a midwife-managed pregnancy and birth typically costs less than a physician-managed pregnancy and birth.
The move toward independent midwifery practice echoes the drive to decrease restrictions on nurse practitioners. At last count, 28 states were considering expanding the role of nurse practitioners.
To support the Midwifery Modernization Act, visit www.nysalm.org/mma.htm.
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