A Jefferson City judge has issued a ruling in the challenge to the midwifery component of HB 818 , a health insurance bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Matt Blunt (R-MO). Cole County circuit Judge Patricia Joyce has declared the provision unconstitutional, based on a violation of what has become known as the Hammerschmidt rule – a Constitutional requirement that any provision of any bill must relate to the original purpose and title of that bill.
The judge ruled the midwife provision bears no relationship to life, health, or accident insurance.
The Missouri Midwives Association was the main intervenor-defendant in the case. The Association’s Mary Ueland believes midwifery is a part of health insurance.
"Obviously," says Ueland, "We plan to appeal that to the Supreme Court. We don’t feel that’s accurate. We feel," continues Ueland, "That midwifery definitely fits within the scope of expanding healthcare, insurance options for people and feel that the Supreme Court will likely find it to be constitutional."
Ueland says that while she would have preferred a different ruling, she is pleased the ruling is not a slam against the practice midwifery, which is illegal in the state.
In the final days of this year’s General Assembly, the midwifery provision was slipped into the much larger insurance bill. The papers appealing this ruling to the State Supreme Court could be filed within days.
In striking down the midwifery provision, the court separates it from the rest of the bill and allows the remaining legislation to stand.