A legal challenge to a lower court ruling on legislation legalizing the services of certified midwives is now in the hands of the judges of the Missouri State Supreme Court. Arguments were heard, Wednesday, over the validity of the midwifery component of HB 818 – a 2007 bill dealing primarily with life, health, or accident insurance.
SC88783 does not focus on the merits of midwifery, but rather on whether the midwifery component in the insurance bill is a violation of the so-called Hammerschmidt rule – a constitutional requirement that any provision of any bill must relate to the original purpose and title of that bill. Prior to final passage of that bill, Senator John Loudon (R-Chesterfield) added what is known as a "legislative tuck" when he slipped in language legalizing the services of midwives.
The Missouri State Medical Association went to court, challenging the validity of the provision, and Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce agreed, striking down the midwifery component.
During oral arguments, Assistant Attorney General John McManus defended the law, saying there is a link between insurance coverage and the legalizing of midwifery because insurance companies would be allowed to offer insurance for the services of midwives.
Attorney Rob Hess, representing the Medical Association, argued previous rulings from the State Supreme Court point to the judges refusing to allow what he calls an indirect link to qualify under Hammerschmidt.
Stand alone legislation legalizing midwifery is again before the General Assembly this year, but will not be needed if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the State and the Missouri Midwives Association, which appealed the lower court ruling.