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Midwives Gain More Autonomy Under New Calif. Law

Midwives Gain More Autonomy Under New Calif. Law

January 16, 2014 — A new California law (AB 1308) gives midwives more autonomy and lifts a requirement that a doctor be present during childbirth, KQED's "The California Report" reports. The law took effect Jan. 1.

The previous policy had been in place for two decades, but physicians were unwilling to supervise midwives because their malpractice insurance would not cover out-of-hospital births. Recognizing that it was impossible for midwives to comply, the California Medical Board suggested changing the law.

Details of Changes

In addition to lifting the supervision requirement, the new law allows midwives to accept coverage through the state's Medicaid program, which supporters said is an important step in giving low-income women a choice in the kind of care they receive.

The law also allows licensed midwives to order ultrasounds, prescription drugs and lab tests. However, the law specifies that midwives are prohibited from offering their services to women pregnant with twins or those with breech babies. It also states that midwives must send a woman to a doctor if there are any abnormalities with her pregnancy (Dembosky, "The California Report," KQED, 1/10).