The Locker Room

July 13, 2008

Re: Another occupational licensing issue

Posted by Hal Young at 08:30 AM

Of course you're right about that, Mitch. I just wanted to make the point that midwives calling for state recognition in the form of a licensing process is just an attempt to carve out an opening in the regulatory structure -- not an effort to cynically thwart the market. For comparison, lactation consultants have a private certification process which looks much like the state-run process I endured for my professional engineering license -- applicants have to document extensive theoretical and practical experience, undergo rigorous examination, and maintain a continuing education and re-licensing process. Some are registered nurses, some are qualified lay people. Hospitals employ them, they can bill insurance companies, and they can maintain private practices. Midwifery can be managed as a self-regulating field the same way.

There is a difference with some of the licensed fields, in that midwifery is a medical practice, although more technical than professional in some respects. Incompetence in medicine is harder for the public to detect and more dangerous in effect than, say, receiving a faulty haircut from an unlicensed barber. That is the positive argument for licensing certain fields, and it can be argued that midwifery should be covered as well.

I think we can both agree, though, the regulation should be opened up more than it is. An awful lot of healthy babies - including, I'll bet, some members of the General Assembly - have been delivered by people who didn't go to graduate school.

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