FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — Kentucky stopped issuing permits to home-birth midwives back in 1975. Now a bill that would create a new regulatory path for these practitioners is a step closer to becoming law.
Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville and Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, was amended and passed by the House on a vote of 96-1 today. Rep. Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville, said SB 84 would require the creation of a regulatory framework for certified professional midwives, or CPMs, while requiring collaboration between CPMs and other health providers.
The result, Webber said, would be a “full course” of prenatal and postpartum care for the more than 700 women who already choose home birth in Kentucky each year.
“This is not a bill about whether or not to allow home births. Those are going to happen. This is a bill about making sure families who choose home birth have access to safe and competent care providers,” Webber told the House.
SB 84 as amended by the House would require the advisory council created by the bill to issue its recommendations for regulatory guidelines for CPMs to the state Board of Nursing within a year after the law takes effect, should SB 84 become law. Those guidelines would cover—among other provisions—allowed use of medications, ordering of medical tests, and policies for transfer to hospitals when necessary.
“So CPMs play an important role in childbirth in this state,” said Webber. “They can signal yellow flags before they become red flags in the health of a mother or a baby.”
The bill, as amended by the House, would also clarify that physicians or other licensed health care providers would not be liable in legal actions taken against a CPM.
Webber said SB 84 would make Kentucky the 34th state to legally recognize licensed CPMs.
Buford explained the importance of the legislation when he moved for the initial passage of SB 84 in the Senate on Feb. 21. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 32-4 that day.
“This is a personal choice made by these families for various reasons,” Buford said. “We must ensure the families who choose this option have access to quality care through … the licensing of midwives.”
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, who is a registered nurse, said she supports the bill. She said perhaps a future General Assembly can consider adding CPMs as health care providers for insurance and Medicaid billing purposes.
SB 84 now returns to the Senate for consideration of the bill in its amended form.
Media release from the Legislative Research Commission