By AlaskaWatchman.com

On Jan. 16, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued a series of executive orders eliminating various boards across the state of Alaska. One of these was the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives, consisting of five members: two certified direct-entry midwives, one certified nurse midwife, one obstetrician, and one public member. These board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature to monitor and regulate the midwives who are trusted by thousands of Alaskan families each year to provide quality prenatal care and safe birthing options.

As a mother who has given birth both at home with midwives and in a hospital setting, I was shocked to hear that our pro-life governor now seeks to eliminate the Board of Midwives. Unlike some of our state boards and commissions, this board is active. At the recommendation of the 2022 legislative audit, its members have worked zealously to align Alaska’s midwifery regulations with the national standards set by the North American Registry of Midwives. The board is also working with State Rep. Jamie Allard on HB 175, a bill that will ensure that Alaska statutes remain in sync with both national standards and Alaska midwifery regulations.

Alaskans must act to preserve their medical freedom and that of their children. We must tell the governor that direct government control over the birthing options of women and their families is not a welcome development…

Yet Executive Order 130 states that the elimination of the Board of Midwives “is in the best interest of efficient administration,” and reassigns its current powers to the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development. Given the specialization of the field of midwifery and the board’s cumulative knowledge, it is not apparent how a state administrator would accomplish the same quality of oversight compared to the current structure of the board.

I have spoken with the Midwives Association of Alaska (MAA), and they not only oppose the elimination of the Board of Midwives but were also blindsided by the governor’s rash action. They have requested additional transparency and reconsideration of the matter on the part of the Dunleavy Administration, as the claims of efficiency do not make sense. MAA and Midwives Board Member Rachel Pugh points out:

“The EO from the Governor to dissolve the State Midwifery Board states that we cost the state too much money to let us continue. In FY2021, the State Midwifery Board paid $28,242 out of the License Fee Revenue to the state of Alaska in Board Expenses. After expenses were paid, the Board had a $67,329 SURPLUS. We are a fiscally responsible board. Cost savings to the State of Alaska from the care of CDM/CPMs is approximately 192 times the cost of administering the State Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives. Call me confused, but I believe by actually looking at the numbers the amount we save the state far exceeds how much we pay in expenses.”

Source: Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report 2022

With a healthcare system dominated by Providence and the greatest geographic spread of any state, Alaska has developed a special niche for midwives. Alaskans are more than four times as likely as other Americans to choose a birth setting supported by midwives. Multiple studies support positive outcomes from licensed midwives’ care, including higher rates of physiological births, lower intervention rates, lower Cesarean rates, higher rates of breastfeeding initiation and continued breastfeeding at six weeks postpartum, as well as greater client satisfaction with the birthing experience.

Alaskans must act to preserve their medical freedom and that of their children. We must tell the governor that direct government control over the birthing options of women and their families is not a welcome development among Alaskan conservatives, libertarians, or even natural health devotees, all of whom value personal freedoms and autonomy over “efficient administration.”

Nor is this a pro-life development. Remember: a year ago Gov. Dunleavy expressed his desire to make Alaska “the most pro-life state in the entire country.”  He should honor his pro-life commitments by respecting the rights of Alaskan women to choose midwifery care. The excellence and safety of this care is best ensured by the continued self-regulation of the Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives.

Even if the governor does not retract his ill-advised move, Executive Order 130 will only stand if our state legislators vote to ratify it. The legislature must vote on Dunleavy’s executive orders within 60 days of their January 16th issuance. Contact your local senator and representatives in the legislature, and ask them to vote against EO 130.

Please act today – this very moment! – to ensure that direct government control over the birthing options of women does not come to pass.

TAKING ACTION

— To contact the Gov. Dunleavy, call (907) 465-3500 or click here send a message.

— To contact your local representatives, click here and enter your address to find out who your representatives are and access their contact information.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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OPINION: Gov. Dunleavy’s plot to abolish Board of Midwives undermines Alaska mothers

Theresa Bird
Theresa Bird is a wife and homeschooling mother of eight. She earned her BA in Philosophy at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH. She lives in Anchorage. Five of her children were born at home under the professional care of Alaskan midwives. Two were born in an Alaskan hospital with a midwife present, and one was born at home under a midwife’s care in another state.


18 Comments

  • David Shoemaker says:

    I’m glad that you wrote this article. all three of our children have been birthed through midwifery. It is a genuinely important freedom we possess in this state. We ought not to lose this.

  • Lucinda says:

    Seems obvious that the board and the midwife services are extremely valuable for all the reasons you mentioned. It baffles me that he would spend millions to defend the state from “federal overreach “ and also claim to be pro-life. The board has a surplus of cash for heaven’s sake. I don’t like dunleavey one bit. Total hypocrite.

    You have your share of hypocrisy. I assume you are anti abortion, if not, forgive me. You wrote, “ Alaskans must act to preserve their medical freedom and that of their children. We must tell the governor that direct government control over the birthing options of women and their families is not a welcome development among Alaskan conservatives”. Yet you DO want government control over a woman’s right to choose her birthing options in the context of abortion.

    Do you see that?

    • Dee Cee says:

      Abortion is not birth. It intentionally kills an innocent life. Your reasoning is flawed.

    • Daddio says:

      Abortionists always argue a straw man argument. The argument isn’t about what a women can do with her body, but whether or not they should be able to murder their baby. The only argument that matters is whether or not a baby is alive and has rights and at what stage does that begin.
      So NO, Lucinda, there is no hypocrisy in her column.

      • Lucinda says:

        Daddio. You are absolutely correct about when a cell mass becomes a human with rights and responsibilities. Without an answer to that question, we will continue to be divided.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Dunleavy and his prolife profession is a lie! Your shocked reaction to this finding is shocking itself! Too many people in this state have been under the illusion that this governor is a man that would uphold their judeo Christian values! He is most definitely not! He is now implementing the values of the new world order in connection to the green new deal! Carbon BS etc! Watch him tomorrow night with your eyes wide open!

  • Daddio says:

    I support midwives and their mission. But I do not support having a government appointed board or any link between government and midwives including licensure.

  • Ceak says:

    I think this board may actually be important. I know the board recently got regulations changed, allowing mothers who’ve had previous c sections to see midwives in future pregnancies. The odds of a mother having a vaginal birth after c section (VBAC) is statistically higher with midwife care. VBAC moms still aren’t allowed to birth at birth centers, which will hopefully change soon!

    I do agree with dissolving the Massage Therapists board.

    • M says:

      “Aren’t allowed” – what?! Do they take women by force to labor in a hospital setting only? Now this sounds like The Handmaids Tale. Do clarify please.
      Realistically – women are bullied into having c sections (I’ve had two now and not by “Choice”) are then bullied by care providers into not doing anything outside of that. Not only bullied but threatened under the control of the state being able to take away any current kids if you don’t listen to their medical advice. Scary stuff how our medical freedoms have been at stake for so long and people are just now beginning to notice.

      • BabiesRUs says:

        Yes, women are bullied into medically-managed birth scenarios by doctors and nurses all the time. Which is probably why statistically, women express greater satisfaction with the birth experience under the care of midwives.

        Sole state control of midwifery in AK is a bad idea, and EO 130’s claim of seeking “efficiency” rings completely hollow in light of the facts laid out by the midwives themselves, especially regarding fiscal responsibility.

        It does make me wonder what the real agenda behind this power grab might be?

  • AK Pilot says:

    Dunleavy clearly has higher political aspirations and is trying to bolster his conservative “street creds” by being able to say “Look how much I slashed the budget!”

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Dunleavy’s definition of prolife: how many cranes do you see in Alaska!!!!!!

  • Valerie says:

    I’m curious as to why there needs to be a Board? Do Midwives need to be regulated by the Alaska government? I suppose I could understand the objection to ending the Board if there were a push to have midwives regulated by an AMA heavy Board of medicine (who would presumably love to end midwifery in the state).

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I wonder if this need for a midwifery board is because if they can’t tell midwives how to operate, then the midwives would deliver healthy babies and healthy mothers. No one would want to go to a physician that is going to demand that you get jabbed first before you have that baby. Moreover, then the state could demand that baby get its death jab within days of being born. That is my theory!

    • MMD says:

      It’s actually a good question: why does midwifery need to monitored/regulated by the government? I can think of two opposing answers to that. On the positive side, unqualified persons posing as midwives could cause unimaginable harm to mothers and babies. On the negative side, how well do government bureaucrats manage other folks’ lives?
      If you acquiesce to the first concern, and agree that midwives’ practices needs to be overseen somehow, a knowledgeable public Board, drawn from the profession and the public, is the way to go. Agreed, an AMA-dominated Board would be a disaster for families and medical choice. But putting that kind of power in the hands of a bureaucrat at the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, as indicated by the EO, sounds like another disaster waiting to happen.
      Considering the significant positive effects that the State Midwifery Board has had on the budget, as well as on the success of midwives enabling healthy, happy birthing experiences for Alaskan mothers, it seems there must be some other agenda behind cancelling the Board of Midwives.

  • S says:

    Dunleavy must be getting a fatty check from the hospitals or Big Pharma.

    • Thinking OutLoud says:

      You know, it just occurred to me: if midwives are saving the state $5 million in Medicaid funds each year, is that a $5 million dollar slice of the pie that DOESNT go to Providence?

      I do wonder who is lobbying the governor for state control over/the abolition of midwifery as we know it?

  • Kendall Shorkey says:

    When bureaucrats jump to conclusions without research it creates problems. The fact that they save the state 5 million per year should be the end of this lie. Midwives having no loss of life to mothers compared to typical 20-25 loss each year of mothers by doctors is disastrous! Enough said!