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.”
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.”
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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.
— 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.