Elinor Smith

HELENA (UM Legislative News Service) -- The Montana House passed a bill on Wednesday that would update midwifery laws, allowing certified professional midwives to access and administer medicines that supporters say can be crucial to the health and safety of the mother during at-home or birth-center births. 

Rep. Jodee Etchart, R-Billings, is the sponsor of House Bill 392. She said Montana is in the top five states in the nation for home births, and everyone should be able to decide how they’d like to deliver their baby without worrying about quality of care or access to important medicine. 

“This is a bill that will expand the ability for direct entry midwives to obtain certain medications that will increase safety for those people that choose to have a home birth or to deliver in a birth studio,” Etchart said.  

Proponents of the bill at the bill’s first hearing earlier this month said midwifery laws relating to what medicines are available to CPMS, or direct-entry midwives – midwives who have not also trained as nurses – are behind the times.

They said many of the drugs included in the bill are now standard practice to prevent hemorrhaging after birth and ensure the safety of both the mother and the child. Other drugs included in the bill would delay contractions until a mother can get to the hospital and provide general numbing.

Amanda Osborne is the Vice President of the Montana Midwifery Association and a practicing midwife herself. She testified for the bill on Feb. 9th.

“The proposed bill does not reconfigure or restructure Montana's current governance of midwifery, but in important and far-seeing aspects, it would bring it into line with nationally recognized standards of midwifery practice,” Osborne said. 

There was no debate over the bill on the House floor and it passed 3rd vote in the house. It will now move on to the Senate.