Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Celebration of Legal Midwives in Missouri!

July 12, 2008 ~ St. James, Missouri

According to the Missouri Supreme Court, Certified Professional Midwives became legal to practice in Missouri on July 4, 2008.

It's a long story, beginning with a little word, "tocology" and ending with a historic Missouri Supreme Court decision that overturned a lower court's ruling. The Missouri Supreme Court stated that the physicians associations who sued the State over the new midwifery law (passed in 2007) had no right to be in court over this in the first place. So, the injunction that they had placed against the midwifery law in August of 2007 was thrown out, and the law stood as passed.

And Certified Professional Midwives became legal to practice in Missouri on the day we celebrate in honor of FREEDOM!

Since most people already had 4th of July plans, we had to postpone our statewide celebration a bit. (Actually, the St. Charles and St. Louis Friends of Missouri Midwives area chapters held celebrations the day the court ruling was handed down - June 24 - and a few days later at their usual monthly meetings.)

Our statewide celebration was planned rather last minute and the Nisbett's graciously offered their spacious home near Rolla.
Here are a few pictures from the Saturday afternoon party (July 12).

The Nisbett's have a dream yard for children...

Their house is really kid-friendly (and fun) as well.
All the kids had a blast!

Jesse and Emily (who take care of all of the accounting and web up-keep for Free the Midwives!) were at the party showing off their new little girl - Ellie.

Senator Mike Gibbons (President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate)
showed up while we were eating lunch.
Here he is, chatting with folks in the kitchen.

After visiting for awhile and joining us for dessert, Senator Gibbons spoke to our group, congratulating us on the recent court ruling allowing professional midwives to practice freely and reminiscing about several funny incidents that happened at the Capitol, involving "the midwives." He said that every grassroots effort that he has seen in his 16 years as a legislator pales in comparison to the one that the midwives have put on at the Capitol.
Eventually he had to head off and hit the campaign trail again (for his Attorney General race).

Collene agreed to be MC for our afternoon program, which was mostly informal story-telling by those who had been involved in trying to legalize midwives in Missouri over the last thirty-some years.

Dr. David Stewart, Ph.D, and his wife, Lee, joined us for the day and spoke first. They told their story of having their first baby at home in Rolla without a midwife or a doctor in the 1960's, because there was no one to attend a homebirth at the time. They have been working to allow access to Missouri midwives and homebirth since 1967. David Stewart has written many books on the subject and is the founder of NAPSAC International (International Association of Parents and Professional for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth).

Keith and Kim Nisbett came next in the history as they moved to Missouri in the late 1980's and were shocked to find that they couldn't open the Yellow Pages and find a midwife. Keith told the story of writing up the first midwifery bill with their illegal midwife in their bedroom and taking it to the Capitol where he learned the legislative process over the next few years as the bill passed the House of Representatives many times. It was always blocked by a filibuster in the Senate, till families eventually burnt out and went home for a few years.

Margaret spoke next about Friends of Missouri Midwives organizing in the 1990's and deciding that a foundation of public education was necessary before success would ever be secured at the Capitol. (She's speaking way in the back in a white shirt in this picture.)

Then it was Debbie and Mary's turn to tell the story of how tocology really happened behind the scenes the day it was passed in the Senate.
Right in the middle of telling the tocology story, much to our surprise, we looked up and saw Senator Chris Koster (also a candidate for Attorney General, and a friend of ours at the Capitol) walk in! He took a seat and listened intently to all of the details that most of the legislators were never privy to hear about.
(Above, Chris Koster and Jonathan Smith listening.)

Then Collene told a touching story about the 2008 legislative session. She talked about how she was walking around the Capitol on one of the very last days, knowing that Senate Leadership was killing our bill behind the scenes.
She said that in desperation, she finally went into the little coffee room near the chamber and shut the door. She told us all how she had knelt down on the floor by the ice machine and cried out to God, "Why does this have to be so long and so hard and so painful? Why does our bill never pass? I've been coming to this place for 20 years and, God, you know how much I HATE it! I don't ever want to come back! Why can't our bill just pass?!"

She said that she stopped and thought about it before she said it, but then she ended her prayer with, "But I will come back if I must."

Then she recounted the last agonizing day of session and the feelings she had as she left the Capitol, tears stinging her eyes when, once again, our bill hadn't passed... not because it wasn't a good bill, not because it didn't have majority support or any other good reason. But simply because it was all about a few men who wanted to ensure their campaign donations in an election year. She had gone home and cried and wondered why things were so unjust.

And then she nearly brought the whole roomful to tears when she said, "And now I see why God didn't let that bill pass and gave us something better instead. Now I'm so happy that I didn't get what I asked for when I was crying in the little coffee room. Justice was served, and better than I could have imagined or asked for."

Afterwards, Senator Koster (above, speaking) added his own funny stories about "midwives in the Capitol".

... And then we posed for pictures!
Mary, Senator Koster, Debbie

Lastly, we all took a big group picture, and people began to head for home, feeling extremely thankful that midwifery had become legal in Missouri in a way that was far beyond anything we had ever imagined or hoped for. We also went away, realizing the gravity of the situation and the need for us to guard our new-found freedom vigilantly.


Laurel said...

Thanks for posting pictures!

Valerie said...

What a wonderful celebration! It is so nice to put faces to the names I've seen over the past couple of years.

Rachel said...

Truely brought tears to my eyes reading this. I am so proud of you, of us, as Missouri families who kept on perservering through the hard times to win this overwhelming victory.

Kolbi said...

I am so upset that I had to miss this day. It sounds so fantastic! Maybe being there would also help concrete the idea in my head. It still doesn't feel real.

Alphacyg said...

I just want to thank everyone! You ladies have been so persistent and patient and wonderful.

Vintage Home Keeper said...

I too found warm tears streaming down my face, as I read the post. My heart cries out, " OH Thank You Lord, for answered prayers!" How wonderful to be on this side now, Rejoicing!! I have been one of your prayer warriors in the background, watching and praying. Now I am rejoicing!!!!!!!!
Thank you for all your continued efforts to see FREEDOM come to Missouri Midwives and Families!!
God Bless You All!
To GOD be the GLORY!!
Lyn (Central Missouri)

CfM Molly said...

How great to read the update and see all the pictures. I can hardly believe the special guests who were there!

Wish I could have joined you.


Peachtree said...

Wow! It's so neat to see the pictures, that must have been one fun party! I wish I could have been there!!

What a victory! Praise the Lord!