A group of women and families plans a march on the Statehouse Wednesday morning to push for the recognition and licensure of midwifery.
With the way the law is currently written, advocates of home births say the practice is essentially outlawed in Indiana.
Midwives plan to gather at the Statehouse at 9 a.m. to make their case to change public policy
While some midwives first go to nursing school, others go straight into their midwife training and earn a CPM, or Certified Professional Midwife. The 3- to 5-year CPM process involves study and in-field training and culminates with taking a nationally accredited exam, according to Mary Ann Griffin of the Indiana Midwifery Task Force.
Griffin said 27 states recognize CPM with licensure. Indiana does not, nor does it offer an alternative licensure for those midwives without the traditional nursing school education, she said.
Still, Griffin estimated CPMs help with approximately 1,000 home births in Indiana each year, which technically means they’re breaking the state’s practicing midwifery without a license law, a felony.
“We work professionally, and yet we’re still considered to be illegal or somewhat underground,” Griffin said.
The push for licensure has been a long process, with Mary Helen Ayres, president of the Indiana Midwives Association, advocating for change for nearly 20 years.
“I think everybody should care about women’s rights to have their babies where they want to have their babies. It’s a very intrinsic human right,” Ayres said. “States that license CPMs have lower [perinatal] mortality rates. It’s very important to us as midwives that the standards of midwifery care in our state are high, remain high and we’d like to see the state support that.”
“I, among others, want the recognition for my midwife so she doesn’t have to worry about a knock on her door or somebody politically saying, ‘You can’t do this,’ when she has the education and has the knowledge,” midwife Lynda Barton-Kirch added.
Advocates maintain home births with properly trained midwives are just as safe as, if not safer than, hospital deliveries.