The House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Friday to a bill permitting midwives to assist at home births -- legislation that had stalled in committee for the past several years.
The House Health and Government Operations Committee voted unanimously to approve the measure after proponents and opponents negotiated a deal. The key compromise came on the issue of licensed midwives assisting at home births by women who have previously had a Cesarean section -- a practice opposed by the state medical society. As amended, the bill would not permit the midwives to do so but required a midwifery committee to advise the General Assembly on the safety of such births as early as December 2016.
Del. Ariana B. Kelly, the Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the bill, expressed satisfaction with the compromise. She said it will allow women who prefer to give birth at home to do so in a safer way. Maryland does not recognize the profession of "direct entry" midwives -- who are trained in assisting at births but need not be nurses -- but more than half the states do.
The legislation has been held up in a Senate committee while a work group ironed out their differences. Sen. Thomas M. ‘Mac” Middleton, the Charles County Democrat who sponsored the bill in his chamber, said the Senate would start working on the House version of the bill.