Missouri Supreme Court affirms midwifery law

Chris Rizo Jun. 24, 2008, 7:16pm

Stephen Limbaugh Jr.

William Ray Price Jr.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline)-A divided Missouri state Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a provision of a health care insurance law that allows midwives to deliver babies in the Show Me State.

The 2007 legislation, included in House Bill 818, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Matt Blunt. The original bill contained unrelated provisions relating to health insurance.

A coalition of groups filed a lawsuit to invalidate part of the law that dealt with midwifery, which made professional midwifery legal to perform without the presence of a licensed physician.

The Missouri State Medical Association, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Missouri Academy of Family Physicians and the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society challenged
the provision's constitutionality.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce sided with the group and invalidated the statute on the grounds that House Bill 818, among other things, violated the original purpose, single subject and clear title requirements outlined in the state constitution.

The Missouri Midwives Association appealed the lower court ruling. The Missouri Supreme Court heard the case March 5.

On Tuesday, the high court ruled 5-2 that the groups challenging the law lacked standing. However, the judges did not rule on the constitutional issues raised in their complaint.

The majority opinion, written by Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr., said the plaintiffs "cannot predicate standing on the perceived risk that their physician members will be subject to discipline."

In his dissenting opinion, Judge William Ray Price Jr. said the original bill violated the clear title and single subject requirements of the state constitution. He said the midwifery provision should be removed from the bill, and thus removed as law.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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