‘Shepherd’s Law’ moves through the legislature in hopes to regulate Oklahoma midwives

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - A bill that would regulate Oklahoma midwives for the first time is moving through the legislature.

SB 1823, called Shepherd’s Law, was named after a child who died almost immediately after he was born.

His mother said this was in large part because she trusted a midwife who ignored serious warning signs.

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.

Baby Shepherd Dean Lippoldt died the day after he was born.

It’s a death she said 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 State Department Health.

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.

The bill passed through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Monday.

State Senator Brenda Stanley authored the bill and believes it will succeed where others that would regulate or ban midwifery have failed.

“It doesn’t make you have to have a license, and it still gives the woman the right to choose if she wants to use an OBGYN or a lay midwife or a midwife with licensure,” Sen. Stanley said.

News 4 reached out to the Oklahoma Midwives Alliance for their take on the bill but has not yet gotten a response.

Now the bill will have to pass through Senate and House votes before going to the governor’s desk.

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