Bill to regulate Oklahoma midwives moves forward

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that would regulate midwives in Oklahoma is moving forward at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

House Bill 3559 which is also known as Shepherd’s Law, was named after a child who died almost immediately after he was born. It is a companion bill to Senate Bill 1823.

When Lecye Doolen was pregnant with her second child, she opted to go with a midwife.

“They’re a viable choice for a lot of women,” she said.

But near the end of her pregnancy, she said her midwife was ignoring signs something was wrong.

“Unfortunately, when I went into labor, he was immediately in distress,” Doolen said.

Shepherd Dean Lippoldt died one day after he was born.

She says his death could have been prevented but she trusted her midwife, who assured her she didn’t need outside medical care.

“I trusted who I felt like was a medical professional,” Doolen said. “A decision I’ll regret the rest of my life.”

That midwife lost her nursing license as a result of Shepherd’s death, but in a state with no regulation, she continues to work as a midwife.

“Hairdressers are licensed, our plumbers are licensed, I’m a realtor and I’m licensed,” Doolen said. “None of those professions are dealing with life and death issues but midwives obviously are, and so to find out that there was absolutely no oversight for those birth professionals at all was, quite frankly, shocking.”

Shepherd’s Law would establish licensure for midwives under the health department. It would also create a seven-member Advisory Committee on Midwifery appointed by and to advise the State Commissioner of Health.

Not only would midwives be held to a statewide standard but mothers would have more information about the woman they’re considering to help them through pregnancy.

Earlier this week, the measure was unanimously approved by the Children, Youth and Family Services Committee.

Now, it will head to the full Oklahoma House of Representatives for a vote.

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