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South Dakota’s first regulations for certified professional midwives received the go-ahead Monday from the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee.

The approval came over objections from the South Dakota State Medical Association.

Justin Bell, a Pierre lawyer for the doctors group, said the midwives board went further than state laws allowed.

The laws authorize midwives to provide care only for “low-risk” mother-baby units that are “problem-free,” Bell said.

Debbie Pease of Centerville, the board’s president, asked whether a hangnail was a problem. “I think he’s really narrowly defining this much more than the original intent of the bill,” she said.

Bell specifically referred to pregnant women who previously had spontaneous premature births, or were younger than age 16, or older than age 42.

State laws permitting midwives to deliver babies passed in 2017. The rules proposal came after more than 20 hours of discussions during seven board meetings, Pease said.

“The (state) Department of Health has guided us through this,” Pease said. She added, “I don’t have any experience to know if it can withstand a (court) challenge.”

“There’s certainly nothing in life that’s problem-free,” Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, said. “I think they’ve jumped through the hoops that are appropriate.”

The vote was 5-1. “It took me a long time to come around to vote for the legislation that brought this into being,” Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory, said. She cast the nay. “I’m not 100 percent there yet.”

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