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PIERRE | Working without a lawyer, the state Board of Certified Professional Midwives adopted South Dakota’s new licensing rules Tuesday for delivering babies outside of hospitals.

The Legislature established the board in 2017. The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee will decide Aug. 20 whether the rules should take effect.

The vote was 4-0 for the final package. President Debbie Pease of Centerville said the board spent about 20 hours during six meetings drafting the proposals.

The South Dakota State Medical Association that represents physicians and osteopaths suggested two pages of changes. The board agreed to keeping records for 20 years and to substituting “suspected” for “diagnosed.” Others were set aside as redundant or unnecessary.

Autumn Cavender-Wilson, a certified professional midwife and a South Dakota board member from Granite Falls, Minn., said physicians generally seemed to have “a lack of faith” in midwives.

Lawyer Tim Engel of Pierre and vice president Mark East represented the medical association in the teleconference.

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The board adopted some of the changes Evie DeWitt of Mitchell sought. She chairs South Dakota Birth Matters. The board agreed to DeWitt’s suggestion that pregnant mothers be allowed to refuse Hepatitis B and HIV screenings. The board said the refusal must be on a state form that lists the pluses and minuses.

The board didn’t accept DeWitt’s recommendation to add a loophole regarding emergency transport and transfer.

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“I think this is vague enough that it could be abused,” said Pat Schwaiger, a certified professional midwife and South Dakota board member from Billings, Mont.

Schwaiger said some midwives could refuse to take high-risk cases to the hospital. She said it happened in Montana and Wyoming.

The Legislature decided initial appointments to the board could include certified professional midwives eligible for licensure in South Dakota and planning to seek licenses here.

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