URGENT – Action Needed on Proposed Hawaiian Bill

Calling all Hawaiians! Below, an urgent message from Midwives Alliance of Hawai’i on a proposed bill that would severely restrict women’s access to midwives in Hawai’i:

Hawaii billThe Senators aren’t gonna know what hit them…can’t mess with empowered women/mothers and not expect a fight!?  SHARE share share! URGENT! The Hawaii legislature has just introduced SB2569, a bill that criminalizes every home birth midwife in the state who is not a Certified Nurse-Midwife.

Worse, SB2569 imposes so many restrictions on nurse-midwives and naturopaths providing out-of-hospital care and on the women seeking their care that it will all but outlaw home birth in Hawaii.

We need you to call or email your legislators today with a simple message:

Please stop SB2569, Relating to Home Birth, a bill that will criminalize nearly all home birth midwives in the state and will deny access to women seeking their care.

To find out who your legislators in the State Assembly and State Senate are and how to contact them, please go here: http://1.usa.gov/1hb9vDL Do NOT make calls or send emails to any legislators other than your own, and please send this urgent message to family and friends and ask them to call or email their legislators today!

As if criminalizing Certified Professional Midwives and other midwives providing home birth care in our state isn’t bad enough, SB2569 will also:

  • Deny care to any woman seeking an out-of-hospital birth, including VBAC mothers, who doesn’t meet the bill’s narrow definition of “low risk”
  • Require all women seeking a home birth to be told they must be examined by a physician whether it is medically indicated or not.
  • Violate women’s medical privacy by requiring home birth providers to report a woman’s “intent to give birth at home” to the State Department of Health, potentially endangering women by exposing their private medical information to partners or family members who don’t agree with their birth choices.
  • Mandate that a woman be forced to undergo “immediate emergency transport to a medical facility” when she experiences any variation in normal labor patterns, as determined by the Board of Medicine and an advisory board with a majority membership of OBs and other physicians, L&D nurses, State Department of health staff, and only one public member and no CPMs or out-of-hospital midwives.
  • Give broad discretionary powers to the Board of Medicine to police the activities of home birth midwives, allowing it to create any “any lawful rule, order or subpoena . . . in lieu of or in addition to any remedy provided in this section” to investigate and prosecute home birth providers.
  • Insult the intelligence of home birth mothers by forcing them to sign a so-called informed consent document that relies on junk science to claim that there is an increased risk of neonatal mortality associated with home birth.

We can’t allow such a backwards piece of legislation that sits in clear violation of the rights of women and their families to choose midwives and home birth to pass. If this bill becomes law, it will put Hawaii dead last on the list of states with family-centered midwife laws that respect the rights of women to make informed and evidence-based decisions about their personal maternity care choices.

We need everyone to start making calls and sending emails to their elected officials today, and please ask your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!

Find your legislators and how to contact them here: http://1.usa.gov/1hb9vDL To read the full text of SB2569 go here: http://1.usa.gov/1dOSNue

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  1. says

    We at KG Hypnbirthing staunchly support midwives in Hawaii. Statistics show that midwife led births are the safest for mothers unless there is a definite indication that medical care is needed. In supporting midwives, we support mothers and their babies.

  2. Denise says

    I read the text of the bill.They seems like very sensible precautions. Especially the informed consent. People who seek credentials that avoid difficult math and science classes are not the best interpreters of scientific studies about birth safety. Babies are precious. No other developed nation besides the US allows a person to call herself a midwife absent a university degree. American homebirth midwives who obtain a CPM credential would be unable to practice in any other first world country. It’s time we expect better at home. Until 2012, a high school diploma wasn’t even a requirement for CPMs. Homebirth makes a miniscule dent in OB income but of course it’s 100% of the income of a home birth midwife. Of course these women don’t want to be left out of a job, that’s why they’re against the bill. Otherwise what’s the harm in insuring that birth attendants have adequate training? Women deserve better.

    • Profile photo of Kathi Valeii says

      Thanks for your thoughts, Denise. Actually, the opposite of what you suggest is true. Stringent restrictions on midwifery is not about making homebirth safe; it is about controlling women.

      It is not just midwives who are upset about this proposed bill, it is the consumers. Restricting access to out-of-hospital midwifery care increases risks to women by limiting women’s access to safe care. More and more, birthing women in highly regulated states are finding that they have two polarizing options – surgical birth or unassisted homebirth. Kudos to those who choose either of their own free will, but what a poor shame for any woman to be backed into a corner to make such choices.

      Birthing women are the most invested people in their health outcome and that of their babies. Decisions about birth rest ultimately with the mother, and are safest decided between a woman and a trusted care provider when her unique circumstances can be evaluated. We can’t possibly believe that a legislator or medical board can know that blanket recommendations are right for every woman and every circumstance. That is what makes this legislation not only ridiculous, but dangerous.

    • says

      To allow one model (medical) of birth support a legal monopoly over all women and babies when only 1/3 of it is based upon their own methods of proof (scientific evidence) seems to me to suggest that women need options.

    • R says

      Denise, I would understand the logic of your point of view if I would accept the popular, but erronious, perspective that all pregnancy is a medical condition that should be treated by medically trained professionals. Normal pregnancies and births are actually natural, healthy, and life giving cultural rights of passage for not just mothers but their entire families and for society itself. Medical intervention should take its proper role only in helping to manage abnormal medical conditions which arise during the process of pregnancy and birth and for which the family seeks help voluntarily. It’s truly unfortunate that you have ascribed evil monetary motives to midwives who oppose this bill when you have no way of knowing what is in their hearts and minds. My wife has helped hundreds of women in bringing new lives into this world and in almost 40 years has NEVER charged anyone. Yet there are those who see no moral problem in charging huge amounts to take the life of pre-birthed children. Mortality rates for these practioners is 100%! Let’s make a law to prevent that! This bill doesn’t care about the lives of the occasional non-aborted fetuses. Hospitals already have the power to confiscate (kidnap) newborns if the parents resist a doctor’s demands in a hospital birth. With the help of the police and CPS they can destroy families basically at their whim. Why would you want women to submit themselves and their families to thsi kind of torment and abuse by having a clinical hospital delivery? This bill asssums that women are too stupid or ignorant to know what’s good for themselves and their babies and therefore need the more educated elite to make their decisions for the thereby protecting them from their ignorant selves. That’s what the motivating factor of this bill is. Women should be able to have anyone they choose to attend them in their birth. Mothers, sisters, friend, doula, mid-wife, or no one at all. This bill removes and criminalizes all of those choices. Children and families are not property of the Government, and should not be treated as such. Women are more intelegent than the government, and some doctors, think. Just Leave them alone.

  3. says

    Where do I start? It is ENTIRELY a WOMAN’S *responsibility* to find the right care provider for her. It is her responsibility to research a potential care provider– their experience, their background, their schooling; contact their apprenticeship mentor or clinic where they trained at; contact past clients and other references, etc. It is up to a woman to choose for herself who will be at her birth, if anyone. Regulating midwives in such a manner does not ensure safety in birth. It only undermines women and families and takes their right away to choose who attends their birth….. besides all of that, this bill would make outrageous stipulations for midwives and women involving homebirth just like many other states have for their licensed midwives— no VBACs, no breech, no multiples, etc. And the majority of OBs push Cesareans for all of these NORMAL variations of birth, even though the evidence proves that vaginal birth is safer….. Also, no one even required midwives (let alone physicians) to be licensed until the last century or so. We went thousands of years with un-licensed, un-regulated, women caring for other women during the childbirth continuum.

  4. Grace Caligtan says

    Yes. Babies are precious and women deserve better. I think everyone can agree with that. Precisely for that reason, Hawai’i mothers deserve a bill that respects their intelligence, their bodily autonomy, and their reasoned choice of provider. Whether that provider is NARM certified, ACMB certified, has a ND or whether that provider comes from an ‘ohana or family lineage of keiki pale, curanderas, parteras or what have you- that is her choice.


    In it’s own language, SB 2569 seems reasonable. Certainly, informed consent is already an applied principle for midwives that practice here in Hawai’i. However, in going even deeper, the bill only recognizes one type of midwife and proposes a board for oversight which consists primarily of medical practioners, who practice an entirely different scope of care and often have very little understanding of midwifery or evidence based care.

    Skilled application of standards and training are not guaranteed by a medical or advanced degree. In fact, with all due respect, younger professionals have fewer core skills for supporting childbearing women than those nearing retirement (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 2006; Gawande 2006) Midwives are more likely to have skills that support physiologic processes in healthy women and newborns, to value such supportive care, and to make judicious and conservative use of interventions (Brown and Grimes 1995; Cragin and Kennedy 2006; Hatem et al. in press; Kennedy and Shannon 2004; Waldenström and Turnbull 1998; Walsh and Downe 2004).

    Furthermore, safety in the eyes of a local or indigenous woman who has been mistreated by a hospital bureaucracy or a paternalistic practitioner may mean choosing a home-birth setting and a CPM who is both culturally competent and has the skill to assess the early need for more medical attention if physiological labor is hampered. CPM training is competency based education based on both didatic and clinical experience. To miminize it and those who chose it as a pathway, is also to undervalue the deep well of wisdom and living archive of knowledge that comes with apprentice style learning.

    As an apprentice now with a CPM preceptor, I have feel I have learned more with her and my colleagues than my BA and MA combined. I am offended by SB2569 and I urge that it be halted. The full spectrum of midwives in Hawai’i must be honored and recognized.

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