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Health

Bill Would Regulate Midwives in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — Some midwives in Maine currently aren't licensed or regulated. That would change under a proposed bill being considered by the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee.

At a public hearing on Tuesday, proponents said licensing would ensure patient safety, but the state objects.

Certified professional midwives, or CPM's — those who typically work in nonhospital settings — do have community and national standards to follow, says Portland-based CPM Robin Illian. But she says there's currently no way to hold midwives accountable if they don't adhere to those standards.

"As it stands today in Maine, anyone, CPM or not, can call themselves a midwife and provide midwife services to the public," she says.

That's why Illian supports the proposed bill, as do a number of health organizations, including the Maine Association of Certified Professional Midwives and the Maine Medical Association.

But the commissioner of Maine's Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Anne Head, says the Legislature rejected a similar bill in 2007 because it would only regulate a small number of individuals.

"Neither proponents nor opponents submitted hard evidence of threats to the general public in the absence of regulation," she says.

About 30 CPMs currently practice in Maine. The Maine Medical Association estimates there are about 200 home births in Maine a year.