The challenge to the constitutionality of legislation decriminalizing midwifery in Missouri is before a Jefferson City judge. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce has heard arguments from opponents and supporters of the law, which was slipped into HB 818 , a health insurance bill, by Senator John Loudon (R-Chesterfield) in the final days of this year’s session of the General Assembly.
Attorney Harvey Tettlebaum, representing doctors and medical groups opposed to legalizing midwifery, insists there is what is called a Hammerschmidt violation – meaning the midwifery provision was not related to the title of the bill, which was a health insurance bill. The Constitution requires that any part of any bill be related to the bill’s original purpose.
Attorney Jim Deutsch, representing various groups and individuals supporting legislation legalizing midwifery, rejects suggestions the midwife provision went beyond the bounds of the health insurance bill. He insists that since midwifery has an impact on healthcare options and an impact on the costs associated with healthcare, there is a link. Besides, he claims the courts have always given a lot of latitude to what the General Assembly does in order to pass legislation.
The judge wants the sides to submit proposals for judgment to her by Tuesday. She has said she hopes to rule by the end of next week.