Midwives protest mandatory testing by Arizona Department of Health Services

The Arizona Association of Midwives filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Health Services on Nov. 5.

The suit was filed against The Arizona Department of Health Services, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and DHS director Cara Christ.

“About three years ago there was a bill that was passed to increase our scope of practice and decrease our burden, both of which have not been done,” said Wendi Cleckner, president of the Arizona Association of Midwives. “There are many things that actually decreased our scope that made it more restrictive for us to practice and a lot more regulations.”

There are currently 74 licensed midwives in the state, 19 of whom have pending enforcement actions against them from the Arizona Department of Health Services for not following department rules and regulations, according to the Arizona Association of Midwives.

Mandated vaginal exams and rules denying their midwives from providing medical care after six weeks post-partum are some of the many reasons that midwives and midwife consumers are angry with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Stephanie Soderblom said she is one of the midwives facing action from the Department of Health. She had a client whose pregnancy ultrasound did not match with her due-date calculations.

“They said that we must use, by definition the gestation is by last normal menstrual period, which meant that I was not compliant with my rules even though it was compliant with other known policy and what basically and OB would provide,” Soderblom said.

Adrian Benitez is a client of Soderblom’s. She was admitted to the hospital for bleeding and pre-term labor, which meant that after the transfer of care Soderblom could no longer treat her, Soderblom said.

“I even called another OB, who I had seen with my other two children, trying to get a post-partum appointment with him and in the initial phone call they said no,” Benitez said.

According to Benitez, the doctor refused to treat her because she did not receive prenatal care from them and they didn’t deliver the baby. Benitez said that only after calling back in tears did they agree to give her a post-partum appointment.

The Arizona Association of Midwives said they hope this lawsuit will cut back some “red tape that ties back midwives hands” and allows them to provide more extensive care to midwife-consumers.

The Arizona Department of Health Services declined to comment.