Unconstitutional State Agency Rule Making in Arkansas

A pregnant woman holding her belly with the words " pregnant " written above it.

The latest on unconstitutional state agency rule making in Arkansas. After having a baby in California with a midwife and doula in a baby friendly hospital in Woodland California and moving back to Arkansas I found the midwifery rules, created by the Arkansas Department of Health, to be onerous and unconstitutional. The rules compel women who hire a state licensed midwife to see a local health clinic nurse and the rules require a vaginal exam among many other tests and procedures. Think about that for a moment…. A mother is getting quality prenatal care in the comfort of her own home on the same schedule as an O.B. from a licensed midwife but is compelled to go to her local health clinic nurse for a vaginal exam and other tests. If she declines this clinic visit will lose her midwife and may be left without any prenatal care depending on how far along she is. The rules state that the pregnant mother cannot decline the vaginal exam. After talking to members of Arkansas Birth Matters I have encountered at least 10 women who were coerced into having vaginal exams at the local health clinic under these rules beginning in 1999 up to 2017. Some of the women were purposefully treated in a rough manner and felt shunned because of their decision to have an out of hospital birth. There is no complaint mechanism for these women and the Arkansas Department of Health has been made aware of the issue. Click the links below for reports from NPR and other local news stations about these forced vaginal exams.

Stay tuned for more information about public comment and the opportunity to speak against rules like this that compel medical treatment on competent adult women.