By Emily Kestel, Fearless editor
A bill that would license and regulate certified professional midwives unanimously passed out of an Iowa House subcommittee last week.
House Study Bill 80 was introduced by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who has long advocated for its passing. Kaufmann introduced an identical bill in 2021, where it passed the Iowa House 93-2. It did not make it through the Senate.
Advocates for midwife licensure have pushed for decades to have licensed CPMs in the state. They say doing so would help drive down maternal mortality rates and create more maternal care options for parents who have healthy, low-risk pregnancies in an era where there’s a shortage of birthing units.
Iowa is one of 13 states where CPMs are not licensed or regulated. Unlike certified nurse midwives, who are primarily hospital-based, CPMs specialize in births that occur in homes and stand-alone birthing centers and do not require a nursing credential or graduate degree in midwifery. Instead, CPMs are direct-entry, and complete a multiyear program through the North American Registry of Midwives.
There are about a dozen credentialed CPMs that currently practice in the state, but because they are not licensed, it makes it difficult to order labs, ultrasounds and get medications from pharmacies within their scope of practice.
“Without licensure, we have trouble accessing the things we need to provide the absolute safest care we can for the clients we work with,” said Bethany Gates, who is a CPM who practices out of Vinton.
Opponents of the bill include the Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Independent Physician Group, Iowa Medical Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Phil Jeneary, a lobbyist for the Iowa Medical Society, said at the subcommittee meeting the main concerns with the bill are in regard to education standards, patient safety and following standardized practices for transferring care and informed consent.
The bill now heads to the full Ways and Means Committee.