The Senate has given full approval to legislation that will provide for state licensure of midwives. Senate Bill 1823 creates “Shepherd’s Law,” by Sen. Brenda Stanley. The bill was approved by a wide margin and with bipartisan support on Wednesday, 41 to 5.
Stanley, a Midwest City Republican Senator and former teacher and principal, said she named the bill after the newborn son of a former student, Lecye Doolen, who lost her baby the day after a planned home delivery that went terribly wrong.
“Shepherd’s Law will provide for licensure, oversight, accountability and informed consent, but preserves parental choice about who they want to use, whether it’s an obstetrician, a lay-midwife, or a licensed, certified midwife,” Stanley said. “Certified Professional Midwives are already regulated in 34 other states—getting this bill passed in both chambers and signed into law will be a tremendously important step for Oklahoma.”
Doolen watched from the Senate gallery as the bill was approved.
“This is actually the first time here at the Capitol that I completely broke down in tears—it was just such a historic day, and to have something bearing my son’s name that is going to be a lasting legacy…it’s moving and incredibly special,” Doolen said.
Under SB 1823, a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) or Certified Midwife (CM) would be required to be licensed in Oklahoma. All midwives would be required to disclose what credentials or licensure they may or may not have, their limitation of skills and whether they carry malpractice insurance. A required informed consent document would also include information on the midwife’s plan for emergencies and complications and gives parents the ability to pre-select a hospital in case of an emergency.
Licensed midwives would also be required to advise clients to seek medical care for pregnancies outside their scope of practice and to call for emergency assistance in situations that fall outside their scope of practice. The $1,000 license would be good for three years.
The legislation also places oversight of the midwifery profession under the State Commissioner of Health and creates an Advisory Committee on Midwifery to assist the commissioner in matters pertaining to licensure, discipline and related issues. Rulemaking authority of the commissioner includes scope of practice, a formulary of prescription drugs for licensed midwives to administer, routine tests, and continuing education. The Health Department would also maintain a roster of licensed midwives.
Sarah Foster, CPM, MA, is President of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, Oklahoma Chapter. She and several members of her organization were also in the Senate gallery for the vote on Shepherd’s Law.
“We are so excited about what this means for Oklahoma families…we know that families are safer when they have access to midwives who can practice in their full scope, so we could not be more elated about what happened today,” Foster said.
SB 1823 now moves to the House for consideration. The House principal author is Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsey.
“After years of attempts in the legislature to create accountability and licensure for midwives, I believe Shepherd’s Law will finally make this a reality. The informed consent requirements will ensure parents can determine the credentials and licensure status of midwives,” Stanley said. “It’s a way forward that I believe can help us better safeguard the health and safety of mothers and babies.”
For more information, contact Sen. Brenda Stanley at 405-521-5584 or email Brenda.Stanley@oksenate.gov.
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