Midwifery: Bill to revise midwifery law moves forward -- without provision allowing suturing

Update below: As detailed in our feature, "Special Delivery," a group of midwives, moms and home-birth advocates are pushing to expand the scope of what Colorado midwives can do. Among the proposed changes: allowing midwives to administer certain drugs and IVs, and making it legal for midwives to suture women who experience tears during childbirth. That last provision, however, is now in jeopardy.

At a hearing before the House Health & Environment Committee last week, the bill passed 12-0 -- without suturing included, reports Indra Lusero, a Denver home-birth mom who is advocating for the changes. According to Lusero, the Colorado Midwives Association agreed to let suturing fall by the wayside in an attempt to make the bill more palatable to doctors, nurses and concerned lawmakers.

At the hearing, she says, Representative Jim Riesberg admitted as much. "He said in the hearing, 'I support the bill as is and I was prepared to bring an amendment to keep suturing in the bill. But since the CMA wanted it out, I'll agree to keep it out.'"

We've e-mailed the CMA leadership and will update this blog post when we hear back.

In February, the Senate Health & Human Services Committee voted to keep suturing in the bill after hearing from midwives and mothers, including a doctor who had her third child at home, about the benefits of being able to perform the stitching. At that hearing, the CMA didn't advocate strongly for suturing -- or against it.

The bill now heads to the House judiciary committee. Despite the suturing setback, Lusero is feeling positive. Most of the other proposed changes have remained intact -- and it's not over yet. "There's a chance suturing could come back," Lusero says. "But with the CMA not wanting it in there, it's a different landscape."

Update, Thursday, April 7: We heard back from CMA president Karen Robinson, a midwife who practices in Lafayette. Here's what she had to say:

The Colorado Midwives Association fully supports the expansion of our practice to include suturing. At this point in our sunset/renewal process, however, with formidable opposition from the Colorado medical lobby, our sponsor felt it best to pull suturing out of the bill so that it could pass without further opposition. We hope to work on further refining the suturing issue in collaboration with the medical lobby this summer and then revisit it again next year.

More from our Follow That Story archives: "Midwives: Mom Jen Johnson's home-birth story."

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