GINA L. PENISTEN • SIOUX FALLS • FEBRUARY 2, 2009
For years, like other state legislators, Rep. Bill Thompson’s position on midwife licensure rested on theoretical armchair logic. The armchair logic proceeds like this: Licensing midwives would encourage home births. Home births result in “train wrecks” that don’t happen in hospital labors. This will lead to a worsening of South Dakota’s already terrible infant mortality rate.
Obviously, this year Thompson has stepped away from the armchair logic position and did some real-world research. As every legislator who has looked carefully at the certified professional midwife credential and actual outcomes in case-controlled studies of midwife-attended home births, Thompson now is a proud cosponsor of the bill. He obviously realized that the armchair logic suggesting women with midwife-attended home births have increased incidents of “train wreck emergencies” is not at all supported by evidence. In fact, if the retired teacher defined “train wrecks” as child-birth emergencies requiring cesarean sections, the midwife-attended home-birth group gets an “A” (96.3 percent vaginal delivery rate). The hospital group gets a “D” (68 percent vaginal delivery).
Neither group can claim an advantage in terms of immediate mortality because instances of actual deaths are equally remote whether you started in the “A” or “D” group.
Now, if only every legislator would step away from the armchair and vote based on facts, perhaps South Dakota will be the next instead of the last state to license certified professional midwives.