Press Conference in Jackson, MS, on Monday!

Read all about it here — it’s the final countdown! The bill will die in committee, if it’s not acted on by Tuesday.

Mississippi Pushes to Legalize CPMs

Current MS law states that [paraphrase], “any woman whose sole occupation and source of income is catching babies is considered a midwife, and is not practicing medicine.” There is really no regulation at all, so I suppose the title of this post is a little misleading, because CPMs aren’t currently illegal. However, they are legal only by judicial interpretation, and I don’t know that there is anything to prevent the next judge in line to make an opposing interpretation, and say that all midwives are practicing medicine, and doing so without a license.

Last year, there was an effort made to make all non-nurse midwives illegal in the state of Mississippi. From what I understand, what happened was that there was one or more bad outcomes when midwives (or a midwife) from another state had come to Mississippi to practice, after she/they had lost licensure in their home state.  One or more nurses and/or doctors involved in the case were appalled, and got a bill passed through the House before any home-birth supporter found out about it, but we fortunately rallied against it, “raised a ruckus” about it, and got it killed in the Senate.

Then we got organized. :-)

I became one of several board members of Mississippi Friends of Midwives, and we started working with midwives to get legislation passed to legally define midwives in Mississippi, and to have that definition be the CPM. There are several reasons for that, including, as I said above, that we’re possibly one judicial interpretation away from midwifery being defined as a practice of medicine, and midwives being then guilty of practicing medicine without a license. Also, for consumers, knowing that their midwife has been certified means that she has demonstrated her skills and ability as a midwife, so the consumer doesn’t have to just take her word for it. [This may be easy if the mom has 9 months or more to prepare for it, but what if she were recently moved to the state, or decided midway through her pregnancy that she didn't want to give birth at her nearest hospital because they had a lot of rules and regulations she didn't want to fight - such as requiring her to stay in bed, have an IV, get Pitocin, baby immediately to the nursery for hours, etc.] Also, no state that has passed CPM legislation has gone back and made CPMs illegal, so we view this as a protection of the CPM and of non-nurse midwifery as well as of midwife-attended home birth. Some states, such as Illinois and Alabama have made it illegal for CPMs and indeed all non-nurse midwives to attend births, and last year, Mississippi was just a few days away from joining their ranks. Since CNMs in Mississippi do not (perhaps legally cannot) attend home births, that would have made midwife-attended home-birth illegal. Since there are only a handful of CNMs in Mississippi, and none in the northern half or more of the state, that would have kept most of the state’s women from having a midwife attend them in labor.

Currently, we have legislation introduced into the House, HB 207, which was approved by the committee yesterday (Jan. 26). We’re not sure when it will come to the floor for a full vote, but based on the legislative calendar, it appears that the deadline for passage is Valentine’s Day, so it may be brought up as early as next week.

We’ve worked hard up to this point, with building support among midwifery advocates and home-birth supporters, and now it’s time to keep working hard, and to get others to work with us. Now is the time when the legislators need to hear from their constituents and from midwifery advocates and supporters. You don’t have to plan on giving birth at home in Mississippi (or anywhere else); you don’t even have to want to give birth at home; you just have to support the right of other women to have midwives legally attend them if they choose to give birth at home.

Last year when we killed the anti-midwifery bill, the state Capitol logged about 5000 phone calls on the issue. Is that a lot, or not very much? Perhaps in some states, that’s not too much, but it was “unprecedented” to the legislators, and perhaps set a record. Every phone call counts. Every email counts. Personal visits are most important. MS Friends of Midwives is working to coordinate visits and phone calls, primarily to make sure that every Representative is contacted in person, and also to make sure we know where the Representatives stand on this issue, and to provide education about what this bill does, what midwives do, etc. If they have any questions or problems with the bill, we want to be able to answer those questions. [So if you support us, please at least join us on facebook so we can better coordinate our efforts!]

Because the legislation was heavily modified and made much more simple in committee (much to our liking! thank you Omeria Scott!!) it is being considered as a “Committee Substitute,” which requires a 3/5 majority to pass, instead of just a simple majority. Now, more than ever, every vote counts. Last year, the anti-midwifery bill passed the House by a large margin; however, I don’t think that the legislators are against midwives. Many of our representatives and senators are older, and they and all their siblings were born at home, so don’t have a problem with it; plus, when many legislators were contacted about their voting for last year’s bill, they were confused by their constituents’ irritation at voting for the bill, because they thought they were voting for midwives and for keeping midwifery legal. They didn’t realize last year that their vote would have made midwife-attended home births illegal in the state of Mississippi.

The very good thing about Mississippi, is that we are a rural state, and apparently the legislators still realize that they were elected to represent their constituents, so finding out that one of their constituents supports a bill is worth a lot to them. In fact, in a recent meeting  with one of the legislators, when asked why the legislator voted for the anti-midwifery bill last year, the legislator said that s/he was contacted by a constituent asking him/her to vote for it. One person. Never underestimate the power of one!

What can you do to support our efforts and this bill? Many things!

  • If you are in Mississippi, you can call and email your Representative [full list here; find out who is your Rep here], telling him or her that you are a constituent, and that you support HB 207 [and if you're not in Mississippi, or you are contacting other Representatives, you can leave off the "constituent" part ;-)].
  • If you know anybody in Mississippi, you can pass the word along to them so that they can call and email (and if possible, visit!) their legislators, asking them to support this bill. If you hear back from any of the Representatives, please pass the information along to our organization [our email is info at msfriendsofmidwives dot com], so that we can keep up with who has been contacted and how everybody is voting.
  • Also, donations would be greatly appreciated (even just a few dollars will help)! Mississippi is not a very populous state but it is a geographically big one, and it takes most of us on the Board a minimum of 3 hours (all highway time!) to drive to the state capital; it’s over 200 miles for me , and takes me close to 4 hours to get there, and 4 hours to get back home. As you may realize, it takes a lot of gas to drive 400+ miles, which costs money. We on the Board are just moms, and in addition to doing all this on a completely volunteer basis, spending quite a bit of time on this, all of us have given above and beyond that, including paying for things out of our own pockets when it was necessary. It would be nice to have some of the cost of gas or a hotel room offset by your generous donation. Really, no donation is too small!
  • Please join our newsletter! This is the single best way to get the information you need to know about this bill. While we update our facebook page often, you know how it is when you have several hundred friends plus probably another several hundred other groups and pages you like — it’s easy to overlook an update on your news feed. But the newsletter is sent to your email address, so will be there until and unless you delete it after you’ve read it. [And of course, your information will never be given or sold to anybody -- this is strictly from us to you; and we only ask for your address (which is optional) so that we know who your elected representatives are, so we can urge you to contact them as a constituent, if necessary.]
  • You can also become a paid member on our Big Tent group (memberships start at only $15), follow us on Twitter, read our blog, and watch us on YouTube.
  • Finally, you can blog about it, share this post or other information on facebook and Twitter, and invite your friends to join our facebook group — all that social networking stuff we’re all so addicted to these days. ;-)

A few years ago, Wisconsin was the first state to pass the CPM legislation on the first attempt. We hope to be the second. Thank you all so much for your support!

~*~

Updated to add: Here is a link to a spreadsheet with all the Representatives’ office email addresses and phone numbers.

Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project

As a local group of Birthing Project USA, the Northeast Missisippi Birthing Project [blog] has as its goal improving maternal outcomes and reducing infant mortality. By providing at-risk pregnant women with a sister-friend to help them during pregnancy, mothers and babies have better outcomes. ["At-risk" includes teen moms, single moms, moms without insurance, etc., not necessarily a medical risk.] Our primary goal is the reduction of infant mortality. For more information, click the links I’ve already given, because the work is really wonderful and the results have been astounding. If you’ve been looking for something concrete to do to help pregnant women, this is something you really should look into. There are branches all over the United States, so you may be able to find out already started; or you may be able to start one in your area. For a brief overview of what we do, please watch the video below [btw, I made it, so of course I like it! :-)] –

Falsifying Evolution

What would be a way that evolution could be falsified?

Updated to add…

This is a post that I started to avoid derailing a comment thread on a birth blog. For usage of the term “falsify” as I’m using it, see the Wikipedia definition, for the full description; here it is in part:

Falsifiability or refutability is the logical possibility that an assertion could be shown false by a particular observation or physical experiment. That something is “falsifiable” does not mean it is false; rather, it means that if the statement were false, then its falsehood could be demonstrated.

So, can evolution be shown false by a particular observation or physical experiment? Is it falsifiable?

On the Science & Sensibility post about epidurals and micro-trauma, Dr. Amy said that Amy Romano was dangerously close to “pseudo-science” in her analysis, by (in her view) refusing to allow that epidurals had some benefit. She said, “A key characteristic of science, as opposed to pseudoscience, is that all possible outcomes are allowed. That’s why “intelligent design” is not science; there is no evidence that would lead it’s advocates to announce that there is no “intelligent designer.” The conclusion is predetermined.”

I countered that the conclusion of evolutionists, that evolution is a fact, is predetermined, and that there is no evidence that would lead its advocates to announce that there is no such thing as evolution. [Evolution, here defined not merely as "change," which anybody with one eye and half a brain can see occurring; but as the term is commonly used to mean the spontaneous generation of life from non-life (at some point in the past), and then that early life giving rise to all other life over the course of millions if not billions of years, so that humans are descendants of ape-like ancestors, and that chickens are descendants of dinosaurs (I think that's the current theory in vogue, anyway), and that we're all descendants of that same one-celled life that just happened to appear way back billions of years ago.]

While Dr. Amy not surprisingly ignored my comments (indeed, I did not expect anyone to take it up; I just wanted to get my point out there), Dr. Nicholas Fogelson did, not quite understanding what I said, saying in part, “…there is really no question that the variation of species on this earth is due to evolution. From phylogeny to DNA evidence to fossil record, everything is absolutely consistent with evolution of species over the millions of years that life has existed on this planet.”

I responded that evolution is not falsifiable, and then opened up this post should anyone wish to take me up on it.

Someone named “Aly” responded,

Here’s a quick primer on the falsifiability of evolution, Kathy: http://atheism.wikia.com/wiki/Disproving_Evolution

But that’s a joke. Here is how it says that evolution could be falsified:

Evolution is based on three principles: variation, heritability and selection; if any of these were shown to be flawed then the theory would be untenable. Consequently any of the following would destroy the theory:

  • If it could be proven that mutations did not occur.
  • If it could be proven that although mutations did occur they were not passed down through the generations.
  • If it could be shown that selection or environmental pressure did not favor the reproductive success of better adapted individuals.

What makes it a joke is that while these things are necessary for evolution to be how everything came about solely by blind chance and natural laws (i.e., no creator nor intelligent designer, no force or being outside our world or universe creating or causing things to come into existence), the existence of these things does not prove that evolution is valid. Mutations do occur, they are passed down to succeeding generations, and natural selection does favor the reproductive success of better adapted individuals. But the man who came up with the idea of “natural selection” predated Darwin, and was a creationist! As was the “father of genetics” Gregor Mendel. In fact, his theories were not accepted for a long time, because it overthrew so much of what Darwin believed. [At the time of Darwin, it was widely believed that characteristics were passed on based on their use or disuse -- so that if a bird didn't use its wings very much, the bird's offspring would have smaller, less useful wings. This was the "engine" of evolution prior to the acceptance of Mendelian genetics -- organisms would swim in the ocean, but eventually come onto the land, and those that used their flippers for moving about on the land would pass on stronger land-motion limbs, so that their offspring would be better land-movers than water-movers, and by this means fish would turn into reptiles and land-dwelling mammals would turn into water-dwelling mammals; but Mendel's work disproved that theory.] Finally, there was so much weight of evidence that Mendel was right, that evolutionists couldn’t deny it any longer… and then they co-opted genetics as the vehicle for changing not just moths into moths and dogs into dogs (change we see, due to the built-in variety of genetics), but changing microbes into microbiologists (over billions of years).

Join me on facebook

I haven’t been blogging as much lately. Every so often, I think back to when I blogged every day for over a year and I wonder, “How on earth did I do that?!?” But I’ve been doing other things, including being on the Board of Directors for MS Friends of Midwives, home-schooling my children, trying not to be on the computer as much but still being on it too much, etc. I’ve been reading as many blogs as ever, and probably even more, when you count all the links and articles and blog posts that get shared around on f/b by my birth junkie friends. And there are a lot of interesting things I’ve been reading, but either I haven’t wanted to write a full blog post about it, or I have just gotten spoiled to the ease of sharing things by clicking “share” and “OK” and then I’m done. So, I’ve taken the plunge and decided to start a fan-page on f/b for this blog. [For some reason, the theme song from "The Jeffersons" is going through my mind -- "I'm moving on up!" :-)] I’ve already got the blog linked so that whenever I post something here, it will appear as a note there; but I will probably be posting a lot more links and things there that I found interesting, but thought my “normal” (as opposed to “those interested in birth”)  friends would think were over the top. Now I feel like I have more freedom to share links that I liked, without worrying about what others will think when I post articles on things like placentaphagy and stuff. So, if you subscribe to my blog and/or like it, you can “like” me on facebook to get even more.

Showing that there really is only one race — the human race

Absolutely fascinating story complete with pictures: a Nigerian couple has a pale-skinned baby with blond hair and blue eyes. She’s their third child, and the other two are the same color as the parents, namely fairly dark-brown. No mix-up — the woman had a C-section, and the baby was this color at birth. Neither of the parents knows of any white ancestors, but it seems that they both must have had one which ended up working its way through the genes unnoticed, until one baby received both genes for light skin color from the parents at the same time — rather like my brother’s red hair when there are no red-heads in either family for as far back as we know. Genetics is absolutely fascinating. One race, people: the human race. Sure there are different characteristics that are predominant in one group of people over another (just as you probably all know some family who all have beak noses or skinny faces or broad shoulders or whatever), but we are not fundamentally different from each other. This is one more example that demonstrates that.

I’m not dead :-)

I’ve been on vacation… where there is great cell-phone coverage (thankfully!) but we have had no internet, unless we drove to the local library. So I’m behind. Very, very far behind. I got to the library a couple of times briefly to check my email (but I still have almost #200 unread emails on a secondary email account — most of them undoubtedly need very little attention beyond marking them as read and deleting them), but didn’t read any of the blogs I keep up with. Apparently, I keep up with a lot of blogs. I also haven’t been on facebook for the past couple of weeks, so I hope I haven’t missed anything important on there. But if I did — oh, well, I guess I’ll find out about it eventually. Or not.

It was a 15-hour drive each way, and we did it in one shot (both driving there and driving back), getting in this morning at 1 a.m. My lonely cat woke me up around 6 a.m., while my kids woke up not too long thereafter. You’d better believe I took a nap! And I realized about 5 p.m., as I was heading out to get groceries that I was dehydrated, so I got a gallon of water at the store and drank nearly half of it before coming home, and feel much better. In fact, I think that’s why I am able to be awake right now at nearly 11 p.m. Although, maybe it’s the “charge” I get from having my internet connection back. :-D

I heard today that there was a new study, a meta-analysis of studies, released on home-birth purporting to show a 3x mortality rate for babies born at home compared to those born at hospitals. I’m still reading my blogs and am still in June [oh, yeah, my router wouldn't work either when I came back, so my husband got dibs on the internet connection when he was awake, so most of today I was still computer-less], so I haven’t read the first blog post about it, and am guessing I’m about half-way done with my blog catch-up. I expect that I will come across multiple viral posts about the study very soon, and know that the “Birth Sense” blog apparently did a very good review of the study and why it’s flawed.

Yeah, it was fun relaxing on the beach, watching the kids swim in the water and play on the sand, doing over 150 Sudoku puzzles and getting a nice tan (and not too much of a burn — I call it “getting enough Vitamin D”), but I am very anxious to read the study and posts about the study, and am bummed that I missed it. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe I’ll catch up then. :-)

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