Newborn's Death Revives Debate Over Mandating a License for Oregon Midwives

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Though for years the Oregon Midwifery Council has supported a woman's right to choose between a variety of providers, both licensed and unlicensed, Cheyney said, "these cases bring the question of voluntary versus mandatory licensure back to the table."

Cheyney's primary concern is that the state track birth outcomes with midwives so that there can be "quality assurance."

"Oregon just passed a house bill that enables us to capture both planned place of delivery [home versus hospital] and birth outcome," she said. "Licensed midwifes are also now required to report their outcomes, so with this new data we can hopefully form evidence-based guidelines for how to regulate midwives."

As of now, there is no legislative move to change the midwife regulations.

"I'm sure it will come up in the next legislative session," said Silke Akerson, a licensed midwife and president of the Oregon Midwifery Council.

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