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Politics

LePage Vetoes Bill to License, Regulate Maine Midwives

Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed a measure that would license and regulate midwives, claiming the bill is unnecessary, represents an expansion of government and could become an unfunded mandate in the future.

Supporters, including the Republican sponsor, are urging fellow lawmakers to enact the bill over the objections of the governor.

The governor says that while LD 690 was well-intentioned, it would create a new profession in the form of home-birth midwives that would need to be overseen by an expanded licensing board. And LePage says the small numbers of midwives in the state doesn’t justify the creation of a new regulatory structure.

He has also raised concerns that the initial $130,000 required to implement the bill could escalate over time and amount to an unfunded mandate on the state, and an expansion of state government.

“I don’t believe that we are expanding government,” says Republican state Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough.

Volk says she sponsored the bill in an effort to help ensure that home births are safe and regulated. She says the bill would license and regulate certified professional midwives in Maine, create criteria for oversight and require data collection for quality improvement.

“Midwifery is on the rise, but there’s also a recognized need for increased safety for home births because home births are increasing in Maine,” Volk says.

She says that there are about 30 certified professional midwives currently practicing in Maine. The Maine Medical Association estimates there are about 200 home births in Maine a year.

Volk says she is guardedly optimistic that the House and Senate will provide the two-thirds vote needed to override the governor’s veto.