Yen excludes Midwife group from Interim Study on Licensure of Midwives

Following up on a story I ran early in the 2017 legislative session, here’s the latest on State Sen. Ervin Yen’s efforts to regulate midwifery in Oklahoma. Yen (R-OKC) had filed two measures that would dramatically restrict midwifery practice in Oklahoma — one failed in committee, while he held the other over for further discussion at an interim study.

Since January, a coalition of the Midwives Society of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Midwives Alliance, and NACPM Oklahoma chapter has been working with Sen. Yen on his proposals, giving input from their perspective and attempting to come to a reasonable solution.

Sen. Yen held his interim study yesterday, and despite comments to me in January expressing his willingness to work with the Oklahoma midwives, he excluded their group from participating in the interim study.

That’s right. Sen. Yen cut the largest association of out-of-hospital midwives in Oklahoma out of a legislative study on licensing midwives.

Here’s what the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives had to say:

Today, October 11th 2017, Oklahoma Senator Ervin Yen conducted an interim study entitled “Licensure of Midwives” intended to explore licensure of out-of-hospital midwives in Oklahoma. This study was held at our request after he submitted a bill last session that would have inadvertently criminalized our profession.

Even though we initially reached out to him, and have consistently stayed in touch with him through our representatives, he intentionally excluded us from participating in this study. Instead of choosing to hear from the foremost expert on out-of-hospital midwifery regulation in the US, who we brought in at our own expense to testify, he invited a physician, a hospital CNM, and a legislative analyst to present testimony.

We are shocked and disappointed that, despite our efforts and willingness to cooperate, our voice was intentionally silenced. We are frustrated that many of the questions asked could have been more accurately addressed if we hadn’t been excluded. It is inexplicable that professionals from the singular industry that is being threatened with regulation were censored. 

From what I have been able to ascertain, Yen had given the midwife group the impression that they would be allowed to participate, before he abruptly pulled the rug out from under them in the last week or so. There’s no good reason for Yen exclude the largest midwife group from being heard at his interim study.

Perhaps Senator Yen wanted his interim study to be an echo chamber, rather than a productive exchange of ideas and investigation of solutions. Indeed, he seems dead-set on destroying a productive set of entrepreneurial health-care workers that have benefited thousands of Oklahoma mothers and families over the years.

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