For seventeen years, midwifery practices in NY have been governed in part by a “Written Practice Agreement”, set to ensure that midwives collaborate with doctors on all patients. Midwives, as with any other medical professionals, already do collaborate with other providers when caring for patients without having such an agreement. Moreover, the downfall of this stipulation has been that many midwives cannot find doctors who are willing to sign their agreements, or that they are often too restricted by the physician’s “allowances” for what she can and can’t do, and with whom. No other professional in the medical field has such a requirement.
There are 1,300 licensed midwives in NY, but only about 1,000 who are able to practice under the current law. Some midwives have even left for friendlier states. Others have simply given up, trying to find other means to make a living and pay back the loans they used to cover educational expenses to prepare them for a career that they are not able to attain. Others still have resorted to practicing “underground” because they feel that the need for their care in the areas where they serve is more significant than the very real risk of going to jail. There have even been situations where a collaborating physician suddenly retired, leaving a midwife without a the ability to practice and a mother without her midwife.
It is well-documented that the Midwife's Model of Care promotes the both the physical and emotional well-being of women and their babies in many ways – such as reducing the need for costly and risky interventions and increasing rates of breastfeeding. Removing this agreement will open greater access to care (especially in rural areas), keep jobs in NY, eliminate the burden of malpractice on the collaborating physicians who have chosen to sign WPAs, reduce medical costs, and most importantly, promote better health for us and our babies. This does not just benefit mothers and midwives - removing the WPA stipulation means that everyone wins!
Both the NYS Assembly and Senate now have a bill on the floor to eliminate the WPA called the “Midwifery Modernization” bill (A08117 in the Assembly, and S5007 in the Senate). It has been brought to the floor by the Health Committee heads of both legislative offices, which gives it added strength. But, the one thing we need that is imperative to make it pass is constituent support. So, I am asking each of you to support this bill by writing, calling, and/or visiting your local Assembly members and Senators and telling them you want them to PASS THIS BILL. I spoke to a woman earlier today who spent ten years working in the senate, and she indicated to me that it would take between 25-100 contacts (getting the media’s attention helps too) to put it on a politician’s radar – and the more contacts, the more likely they are to support it. This means we need everyone to get their friends, family, and co-workers to send letters too.
has a sample letter which can be copy/pasted into your own format, the bill numbers (which MUST be included in any correspondence), and links to the state websites where you can locate the representatives who serve your districts (scroll down under the information about our upcoming meeting.) We need to pull out all the stops as quickly as possible, because this will go to vote on JUNE 23rd, which is really only a handful of weeks away.
Please forward this along to everyone you know, and urge everyone to take immediate action. It will only take a few moments of your time, and is one way we can make an enormous impact!
Thanks for your help.