In a key move toward prioritizing women’s health, the New York State Senate voted 61-0 to permit licensed professional midwives to practice independently. Assembly Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried wrote the bill, A. 8117-B, which passed the Assembly on Monday, June 28 with a vote of 95-17. Governor David Paterson signed the bill into law on July 31st.
Gottfried’s press release explains the implications of the new law:
Professional midwives have been licensed in New York State for decades. They provide prenatal care, deliveries, and primary gynecological care. However, they are required to have a “written practice agreement” with an obstetrician or a hospital that provides obstetric services. The bill would repeal the requirement for a written practice agreement.
Clearly, this bill represents a landmark victory for the midwives of New York State, who would no longer be forced to partner with an obstetrician or a hospital or scramble to create a new partnership when hospitals that partner with midwives close down. Gottfried goes on to describe the benefits for pregnant women:
This is a major victory for women’s health. The 1,300 licensed midwives in New York perform about 15% of the non-Caesarean deliveries, with exceptionally high rates of successful outcomes and patient satisfaction,” Gottfried said. “The written practice agreement is an unnecessary restriction that blocks many midwives from serving the community.
This bill is a step forward in allowing pregnant women to access the full gamut of reproductive services. This is especially important for women in rural communities throughout the state, where it can be difficult to find physicians who are willing to sign an agreement with a midwife.
I applaud the NYS Legislature and Governor Paterson for helping advance the cause of women’s reproductive freedom.
By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern