Mama's Got a Plan:

Maternity Care, Health Insurance, and Reproductive Justice

Michigan’s 9-part CPM licensure odyssey: part 2

The Fellowship of the Bill – Part 2

This is the continuing story of Michigan’s nine-year journey toward a law to license Certified Professional Midwives. The first installment of the story is HERE.

Part 2


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Back in Michigan – or, if you will, Lothlórien – the midwives began the work of convincing their colleagues, including one who had been arrested in the 1980s for the unauthorized practice of medicine (Frame 2). Other midwives were also beginning to feel uneasy, suspecting they were under scrutiny by law enforcement. A senior midwife (Bilbo Baggins – see Page 3) had a personal connection to Jean Doss, a wizard of a lobbyist experienced in licensure initiatives (Frame 3). However, that very experience made her reluctant to launch herself into another licensure fight. She warned the midwives that such legislation took at least 20 years to enact. Nevertheless, her determination and savvy were key ingredients in the quest.

It was all very well to speak of legislation, but a bill required a sponsor (Frame 4). The tall order faced by the midwives and their lobbyist was to identify a legislator of the majority party (Republican), who was not near to being termed out, who had some knowledge and sympathy for midwifery care, and who was not indebted to any medical professional groups. The group wooed and won freshman representative Ed McBroom, a dairy farmer from Michigan’s rural and remote Upper Peninsula. Not only had a midwife attended the home births of his (then) three children, but he himself had also been born at home. As were his cows (Frame 5).

And what were Michigan families – the “consumers” – up to during this time? Around the year 2000 Pamela Pilch, a Michigan mother, lawyer, opera singer, and all-around good egg, founded the Friends of Michigan Midwives, an organization intended to provide services to busy midwives. Although Pam left the state several years after, FoMM was later revitalized in order to support the licensure effort. For whatever reason, FoMM attracted many volunteers named Melissa: Melissa Hale and Melissa Ryba are both past presidents. Melissa Furlette, now a CNM, also served on the board. The hive metaphor was chosen because “Melissa” means “bee” in Greek, as does “Deborah” in Hebrew, as remarked by Deborah Fisch, another FoMM board member. The current president of FoMM is Elizabeth Hawver, whose name was left out of this frame because it unfortunately does not fit in with the bee naming scheme. Sorry, Beth! In every other way, you are the perfect leader!


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