Melissa Cheyney: mandatory licensing for homebirth midwives … with a few exceptions

You can’t make this stuff up.

Melissa Cheyney has seen the light. Voluntary licensure of homebirth midwives has been recognized for the self-serving ploy that it is, so now Cheyney is in favor of mandatory licensing.

Yes, she is; she said so in this article:

Melissa Cheyney, a licensed midwife and chair of the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery, argues that mandatory licensure is not a matter of making the practice safer but a matter of holding midwives accountable and making sure every midwife has a minimal entry level of training.

Yes, she’s absolutely in favor of mandatory licensing, except …

… Cheyney is wary about establishing a law so soon without data proving licensed midwives produce better birth outcomes than those without a license. Though a project to obtain this data is under way, it will take at least three years to compile the information and determine the results.

Of course that data already exists and shows that both licensed and unlicensed Oregon homebirth midwives have appalling levels of perinatal death. (How many babies died at the hands of Oregon homebirth midwives?)

No matter, Cheyney is completely in favor of mandatory licensing for Oregon homebirth midwives. There just need to be a few teeny, tiny exceptions in light of the fact that a license costs money:

Cheyney is concerned for many midwives, including those with fewer client bases such as student midwives who are just starting out, midwives who work in rural towns, and midwives who work with under-served populations. If those midwives can’t afford a license under a new law, they would be forced to give up their practice.

Because what’s really important is the ability of homebirth midwives to make money.

It’s not like women in rural areas and in under-served populations deserve accountable, minimally trained midwives, right? And, really, is it fair to hold brand new homebirth midwives accountable? Let’s wait until they made some money before we ask them to prove that they’ve been minimally trained.

So let’s see. Melissa Cheyney is completely in favor of mandatory licensing for all homebirth midwives who aren’t new, who aren’t practicing in rural areas and who aren’t working with under-served populations.

Yes, indeed, every single one those midwives must be licensed. Well, actually not every single one.

Cheyney wants to maintain protection for traditional midwives regardless of licensing laws. She suggests allowing midwives to apply for exemption from mandatory licensure to preserve those traditions. “I think it’s a travesty around the world that Western-style obstetrics have come in and annihilated long traditions of traditional midwives,” Cheyney says.

She’s got a point. But why stop at homebirth midwives? Shouldn’t we also exempt traditional neurosurgeons from the requirement for a medical license. Isn’t it a travesty around the world that Western-style neurosurgery have come in and annihilated long traditions of trephining skulls and exorcisms?

Be that as it may, the important thing is that Melissa Cheyney has changed her mind and recognized the importance of licensure for Oregon homebirth midwives. Every single homebirth midwife should be licensed except for the new midwives, those who work in rural areas, those who work with the under-served and those who practice traditional midwifery.

I, for one, am giving thanks for this change of heart.

As someone who is working diligently to abolish the CPM credential, I must give thanks to Melissa Cheyney directly. It’s difficult to imagine a more incompetent and downright destructive defender of the grossly undereducated, grossly under-trained certified professional midwife than Cheyney.

How has she hurt the cause of CPMs? Let me count the ways:

promoting voluntary licensure;
creating laws that allow anyone to call herself a midwife, even if she has no training;
refusing to release the death rates of the 24,000 homebirths in the MANA database;
refusing to share the Oregon MANA statistics with the state of Oregon;
publicly acknowledging that she won’t share those statistics because they could be used to discipline midwives;
and now, promoting mandatory licensure with indefensible exceptions.

I could tell you that CPMs are nothing more than birth junkies who wish to call themselves midwives without doing the hard work of earning a midwifery degree. I could tell you that CPMs care only about themselves, eschewing the need for training, licensure and accountability. I could tell you that CPMs have appalling death rates and couldn’t care less. But no one brings the point home like the Melissa Cheyney.

Keep up the good work, Missy!

  • GalacticKohpalaA davis

    Because midwifery has been around since creation basically and certainly long before the title of a social worker let alone governmental Institutions or licensing agencies ever existed. Learning via apprenticeship IS the historically proven Best Route of Education for Midwives

    • Roadstergal

      “historically proven Best Route of Education for Midwives”

      Proven? Show us the proof, then. Show us the studies where the outcome measures (starting with maternal and neonatal mortality) for apprenticed midwives are better than for midwives educated in mainstream medical/nursing schools.

      If that’s the case, then why are the CPMs in the US not accepted as midwives in any of the developed countries where midwives are the default caretaker for pregnant women? The UK, the Netherlands?

  • GalacticKohpalaA davis

    You’re absolutely Wicked at heart. You so don’t get the HEART of midwifery. Fire for you. I can guarantee you that YOUR PERSONAL DEATH COUNT is far higher a percentage than all of ours combined. What about Women’s Rights to Choose what and where they Want? Choice. A whole massive amount if women, with that number multiplying yearly, choose Not you, Not your Hospital, Not your drugs, Not your insane interventions and alarming c-section rate and Not your superiority trip. Have you ever hear of the Wheels Health Organization….. Well yeah…. The asking with nearly every other first world country recommended Midwives as the standard of care for life risk mothers and babies. Get with the times you sound like a vindicative and, ignorant and hateful old hag.

    • Charybdis

      How about those of us who want to choose Not You, Not Your Midwife, Not Your Homebirth, Not Your Non-Interventionism, Not Your Refusal To Recognize Potential Issues, Not Your Condescension, and Not Your Superiority Complex?
      I would never opt for a midwife. If I lived in a country where midwives were the standard of care for pregnancy and childbirth, I would hope like hell I had something that would risk me out to an OB.
      Nice gravedigging, by the way. Let’s have a zombie post.

    • Dr Kitty

      MANA recorded a death rate much, much higher than the death rate for obstetrician supervised low risk women in the USA for their self reported cohort of low risk women.

      But sure, ignore that.

    • Roadstergal

      A Whole Massive Amount Of Women? How many women is, that, Galactica KohpalaA? What percentage of women in the US choose homebirth? What percentage of women in the UK? What is happening to the percentage of women in the Netherlands who choose homebirth? Is it going up or down?

      Here’s another question. What are the outcomes of women who choose homebirth in the US? I’ll make it easy for you and point you towards the high-quality dataset from Oregon. It was compiled by a homebirth-advocating CNM, who wanted real data on outcomes from planned homebirth.

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