Dear MAWS Community,
We write to you with humbled hearts as the last few years have been extremely challenging for all of us in one way or another. Please take the time to read this letter in its entirety, as we feel it to be one of the most significant communications from the Midwives Association of Washington State’s history to date.
The Midwives’ Association of Washington State was formed in 1983. Since then the organization has made unprecedented progress in expanding the number of midwives in the state, the number of clients served, and our scope of practice. Until this year, with the hiring of our new Executive Director, MAWS has been an entirely volunteer-run organization. Every MAWS board member since 1983 has been a midwife, midwifery consumer, supporter or midwifery student.
MAWS was the first state midwifery organization in the country to:
The Board is justifiably proud that MAWS stands today as a leader for midwifery organizations nationally. MAWS is, without question, the longest lived, most influential and most accomplished community midwifery organization in the United States, bar none. ALL of this has been accomplished by your peers working on your behalf without compensation because, like you, they love our shared profession, our colleagues, and the families to whom we provide care.
With that said, it’s clear that over the years MAWS has also made some significant missteps as we have always been a majority white, straight, cisgender, western Washington board. We recognize that as an organization we have historically:
In recent years MAWS has faced consistent criticism from within the midwifery community for being exclusionary and dismissive to the concerns of its members and those outside the membership. We have heard these criticisms and have worked to address them to the best of our ability. Some of these measures include:
We also acknowledge that as another majority white, straight, cisgender, western Washington board, we may not be the right group of people to lead the organization moving forward.
In order to offer the greater MAWS membership the opportunity to completely reconfigure the composition of MAWS leadership, as a board, we have come to the decision to collectively resign our board positions effective December 31st, 2022.
Our intent with this move is to leave all board positions, including all officer positions, vacant for a new generation of midwives who want to assume MAWS leadership and move the organization forward.
To this end, in August a new nomination cycle for MAWS board leadership will open and the MAWS membership will have the opportunity to nominate and vote on a completely new slate of leaders.
A few current Board members are willing to stay on as an advisory committee if desired by the new board. If not desired, we will pass on our current knowledge, and step away completely.
If you are interested in a position on the MAWS board, please email email@example.com stating your intention to join the board and if you desire to be an officer by (date).
Vy Mai, our executive director, will gather the interested parties together for a discussion in September and we will begin the work of handing over the necessary information to the new members. Our intention is to have the new board in place and functional by January 2023.
What does being on the Board entail?
The new board will be free to edit this as they see fit but currently board members are expected to:
The current MAWS Board is grateful for the opportunity to have served the midwifery community of Washington and is hopeful that this step will result in an influx of new people and ideas into the organization. We remain committed to the MAWS Mission, Vision and Values and look forward to what the community has in store for all of us.
An email requesting nominations will be forthcoming.
Jen Segadelli, JD, MSM, CPM - President
Jessica Swan, MSM, LM - Vice President
Kristin Eggleston, LM, CPM - Treasurer
Louisa Severn, LM, CPM
Sunita Iyer, ND, LM
Melanie Dickson, LM, CPM
Emily Jones, MSM, LM, CPM
Natalie Jolly, PhD
Today, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood on the grounds that abortion was not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” The desire to control fertility exists in nearly every historical society, and contraception and abortion have been tools used across time and across the world. Midwives have always served the multitude of needs of childbearing people. Historically, midwives throughout the world did not limit their services to pregnancy and birth, but rather managed several aspects of what we would now call gynecologic care, including use of drugs and procedures to regulate fertility by promoting, suppressing, or ending pregnancy. Abortion predates medicine; it predates the U.S. Constitution; and it predates political manipulation. Abortion, like midwifery, is as old as time.
The Midwives’ Association of Washington State (MAWS) recognizes and supports an individual’s right to bodily autonomy, and to make choices for their own health and well-being, and that of their family. We recognize that today's Supreme Court decision is oppressive and violating for all childbearing people, and will most deeply impact our vulnerable communities that already experience violence and inequity at the hands of the reproductive healthcare system. Abortion restrictions are deleterious to perinatal health outcomes and such restrictions increase the risk of non-evidence-based and coerced pregnancy interventions. Midwives have long been advocates for pregnant people and their infants, and know the impact that political oppression can have on the health outcomes for families. We reiterate our commitment to that advocacy today, and support each individual’s choice to make autonomous healthcare decisions suited to their needs and well-being.
We will be posting a list of resources on our website and updating it in the coming days. We are here to open space for our community, to listen and provide support however needed. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We came together this past Thursday evening to celebrate life, each other and the passing of SSB 5765; which is such a tremendous win for Washington midwives and their clients. The Midwives’ Association of Washington State would like to take this time to recognize the tragedies that have recently occurred in New York, California and Texas, and hold space for those who need support. The practice of midwifery is to help bring life into this world. These violent acts against children and BIPOC communities go against everything that we, as midwives and as an organization, advocate for. MAWS condemns all acts of violence and stands with our community and those who are grieving from the recent events, including those who have been affected by gun violence in any capacity. We actively uphold our mission: “To support Washington State midwives and the profession of midwifery by promoting reproductive justice, well-being, and access to care through professional development, advocacy, and community-based action.” We must acknowledge the issues harming our children and communities by continuing to hold ourselves and those around us responsible for our actions, and by speaking to our legislators to demand laws that combat these issues.
Freedom from gun violence is part of reproductive justice. MAWS will continue to fight for that freedom and stand with those who are doing the same. We have included resources below for those who have been impacted by gun violence, as well as additional information on organizations that are working toward more gun control. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions or additional resources that you would like to highlight.
As the sun set on March 31st, Governor Jay Inslee signed SSB 5765, turning our bill into law. This was a monumental day for Midwives across the state! To our knowledge, this officially signed bill, creating prescriptive authority pathway for licensed midwives that is autonomous and client-centered, is the first of its kind in the country. Licensed Midwives have accomplished the first critical step in a pathway to prescriptive authority. The next step will be rulemaking to clarify the eligibility and requirements for this authority — stay tuned for updates and a hosted Q&A with our team! This is a major milestone in our goal of creating a healthcare system in which Licensed Midwives can provide more comprehensive care for midwifery clients. We again want to thank Senator Emily Randall, our Lobbyist Amber Ulvenes, and our Legislative and Policy team for working so hard to get this bill passed and signed. We also want to thank all that supported us throughout this journey. We couldn't have done it without you, and we owe it to you all!
We have some exciting events in the works and cannot wait to share more details with you soon, so stay tuned for updates!
Dear Members, Supporters, and friends of MAWS,
In an effort to eliminate racism throughout our organizations and do more than pay lip service to addressing the needs of communities of colors and the disparities perpetuated by systemic and personal racism, we are offering free memberships at all levels to people of color wishing to join (or renew membership in) MAWS in 2018. We are doing this in accordance with our Equity and Inclusion Values Statement and in solidarity with the Missouri Midwives Association Midwives of Color Chapter (MMA-MOC), which stated its hope to hold its state organization “accountable to the work of eliminating racially-based disparities, increasing racial diversity, and ensuring the promotion and perpetuation of anti-racist policies and procedures” that manifest in state organizations and throughout the midwifery community. We are inspired by the efforts of the MMA-MOC to actively recruit and retain candidates of color, and by their commitment to addressing “personal, organizational and structural racism inherent in all American social structures and at all strata of human interaction” that these efforts require. [see below the full statement of the MMA-MOC]
One of MAWS’ primary goals is to ensure that all families have access to safe, effective, and quality care. However, we recognize that systemic inequities as well as the personal privilege, biases, prejudices, and limited perspective of our predominantly white-led professional association are a hindrance to that goal. We acknowledge that we have a long way to go but will constantly strive to be more aware, more welcoming, and actively inclusive. And we cannot do it without creating more space in our organization for the participation and leadership of people of color. We humbly open our doors, our hearts, and our minds so that MAWS can become a truly representative professional midwifery association, able to deliver on its promise.
The Board of Directors of the Midwives' Association of Washington State
To claim your free membership, please email email@example.com. We want to hear from you!
Click here for our Equity and Inclusion Values Statement
MMA-MOC Statement in Support of Black Midwife Demetra Seriki
In the summer of 2012, the Missouri Midwives Association held their annual retreat in Kansas City, MO. At this meeting a discussion was introduced concerning the active recruitment of candidates from the Black community into the Missouri midwifery community. At that point there were no midwives of color and only one student of color in Missouri. Missouri Midwives Association was informed at this time, that an influx of Black candidates would mean that change would have to occur within MMA to accommodate women of color. The midwives present wanted to know what that change would consist of. That change meant dealing with the personal, organizational and structural racism inherent in all American social structures and at all strata of human interaction.
In the Fall of 2017, there were enough student midwives of color, according to MMA bylaw to form our own committee, the Midwives of Color Chapter. This committee has now formed, and we would like to issue as our first official statement, our solidarity with Colorado midwife, Demetra Seriki in her fight against continued marginalization and oppression. As an official chapter of the Missouri Midwives Association, we stand against racism, oppression and inequity in any of its insidious forms. We commit to one another, to our state organization, and to the African-American community at large that we will use our collective energies to fight those forces that have kept our communities locked in perpetual poor health outcomes, especially when it comes to maternal and infant health. Many give lip service to the concerns of our community, but we will show up to do the work of supporting, protecting, and promoting maternal and infant health in Missouri’s long neglected African-American communities.
We recognize that Missouri is not only not immune, but in some ways particularly at risk for replicating some of the issues seen in other states in the midwifery community. We hope to take preventative action by holding our state organization accountable to the work of eliminating racially-based disparities, increasing racial diversity, and ensuring the promotion and perpetuation of anti-racist policies and procedures manifested in our state organization and reflected throughout the midwifery model of care as practiced in the state of Missouri.
Missouri Midwives Association- Midwives of Color Chapter
Hakima Tafunzi Payne- Chapter President
Brittany Tru Kellman- Chapter Secretary
A message from the leadership of MAWS
The Midwives’ Association of Washington State joins the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives and the American College of Nurse-Midwives in publicly denouncing and condemning white supremacy, bigotry, and racial prejudice in all its forms.
We must all take this moment to examine ourselves, recognize our own places of privilege, and level the playing field wherever possible. What are our conscious and unconscious biases? How have most of us benefited from our white supremacist society, and how do we continue to uphold it? To our professional members, we urge you to evaluate your practice for openness and inclusivity. Do your practice handouts contain images of people of color? Do your informed consents use gender inclusive language? Birth Center members, do your facilities create a welcoming space for all people? Teachers and preceptors, are you raising the next generation of midwives to be more awake? Students, are you actively listening to your cohort of different backgrounds? Parents, how do you talk to your children about race? About gender?
Everything MAWS does is centered on the goal that ALL families, regardless of race, religion, income, sexual orientation, or gender identity, should have access to safe, effective, and quality care. We acknowledge that we have a long way to go, but we are constantly striving to be more aware, more welcoming, and actively inclusive. Please join us in declaring that bigotry, prejudice, and bias have no place in our hearts, our practices, and our communities.
To our friends, colleagues, students, and clients who are Black, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, undocumented, and transgender, we care about you. You are safe with us. Your lives matter. You are not a distraction. You are our family.
With love and solidarity,
The Midwives’ Association of Washington State