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Equity and Social Justice Position Statement

asian-mom-and-clientMidwives College of Utah (MCU) is committed to the vision that every family deserves a midwife. The MCU curriculum is firmly grounded in the unique and profound power of the Midwives Model of Care™ as a primary pathway for improving outcomes and eliminating inequities for pregnant persons and their babies during the childbearing year.

In 2017, 1 of every 62 births in the US was an out-of-hospital birth (1.61%). Home births increased by 77% from 2004–2017, while birth center births more than doubled (MacDorman, Declercq, 2018). This incredible news helps to acknowledge the dedicated work of students, midwives, and midwifery education in increasing access to home- and birth center-based care. However, the increase in community birth rates and associated lower risk profiles were driven primarily by white, middle-class people (see Figure 1 below).  Since community birth has a lower risk profile than a hospital birth and the Midwives Model of Care is associated with positive outcomes overall, underrepresented families are not receiving the benefits of midwifery care and community birth to the extent of their white counterparts. Concurrently, due to systemic oppression, families of color, low-income families, queer-identified families, and other marginalized communities remain at greater risk for maternal-infant morbidity and mortality. Identified inequities are incongruent with the principles of the Midwives Model of Care and the Midwives College of Utah’s vision for the future of midwifery in which equity and social justice prevail. 

Figure 1: Percentage of births occurring out of hospital by race and Hispanic origin of mother: United States, 2004–2017

Notes: API = Asian or Pacific Islander. Source: Birth certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System.

Out-of-hospital births include those occurring in a home, birth center, clinic or doctor’s office, or other location. 

MCU acknowledges the known associations between midwifery care access and midwifery education/training, where a lack of diversity within the midwifery profession is associated with a less diverse clientele population. In an effort to decrease evident inequities among marginalized communities and ensure all families have access to the benefits of midwifery care, midwifery educators must take explicit action to improve the diversity of the profession and implement educational and clinical agendas committed to cultural humility, social justice, and health equity. 

Existing barriers to the obtainment of midwifery education occur dynamically at both micro- (individual) and macro- (institutional) levels, and only through removal of identified barriers and the addition of meaningful support systems will the midwifery profession achieve the principles of equity and social justice. To this end, MCU is committed to undertaking a holistic approach to diversity initiatives within our educational system and profession at large, working with internal and external stakeholders to identify barriers and implement best practices that serve our underrepresented communities, decrease inequities among marginalized communities, and ensure inclusivity in education as well as midwifery care.

Specifically, MCU commits to the continued development of a social justice and equity agenda within our educational community of educators and learners that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Identify and assess the barriers and needs that exist for underrepresented students in entering and successfully moving through the program.
  2. Ensure accessible institution-wide (board, students, faculty, staff, and preceptors) anti-racism and anti-oppression training with an emphasis on incorporating inclusive and diverse pedagogical approaches within the curriculum and in our student support services.
  3. Evaluate barriers, identify best practices, and implement proactive approaches to increasing the recruitment and retention of faculty from underrepresented communities through local, national, and international organizations. 
  4. Based on identified barriers and needs, improve support services that specifically target and meet the unique needs of underrepresented communities in an effort to increase their recruitment, retention, and success in midwifery education and training in the field.
  5. Collaborate with midwifery organizations including  ACNM, NACPM, AME, NAABB, MANA, BMMA, MEAC and NARM, and any other organizations that demonstrate awareness of and are working to eliminate inequities within midwifery and midwifery education.
  6. Engage ongoing evaluation of our educational offerings, including the curricula of the Bachelor of Science in Midwifery, Master of Science in Midwifery, and Acadamy of Continuing Education programs to ensure evidence-informed approaches that are meaningful to the communities we wish to serve; improve our educational system based on continual self-reflection and evaluation results.

You can learn about the specific actions and initiatives of MCU’s equity and social justice agenda here.

For more information, please read MCU’s Non-Discrimination Policy.

MCU strives to be a committed ally to all underrepresented families who seek access to midwifery care and to those who wish to become midwifery providers within their communities.  Through collaboration, humble listening, and action we will continually strive to remove existing barriers to recruitment, retention, support, and success at MCU, as well as advance our program and profession in achieving inclusivity, cultural humility, and health equity. In doing so, we hope to broaden the reach and benefits of midwifery care for all families and effect widespread social change in the midwifery profession.

Apply now for MCU’s Briana Blackwelder Equal Access Scholarship Fund.

Citation for Figure 1:  Macdorman, M. F., & Declercq, E. (2018). Trends and state variations in out‐of‐hospital births in the United States, 2004‐2017. Birth, 46(2), 279–288. doi: 10.1111/birt.12411

Updated 04.01.2020

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