Why the Biddy Mason Scholarship and Financial Aid Fund

CAM’s commitment to equity in midwifery is rooted in the awareness of the racism that fueled the campaign to eliminate the profession of midwifery in the US. Throughout the early 20th century, while nations in Europe and Asia focused on modernizing midwifery education and integrating midwives into emerging healthcare systems, policy makers in the US focused instead on replacing midwives—a racially and ethnically diverse workforce of maternity care providers—with white physicians, nurses, and nurse-midwives.

The purposely organized and well funded campaign to eliminate the midwife profession was a resounding success, and by the 1950s regulations governing midwives at the local and state level were repealed and replaced with medical practice acts that criminalized midwifery and rebirthed it as a branch of nursing under the supervision of physicians. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color throughout the US lost the midwives who had been serving and sustaining their communities for generations.

We can still see the impact of the racist campaign that eliminated back midwives as the primary birth attendants for many Americans in the 19th century.  In the state of California there are approximately 550 licensed midwives. Approximately 13 of them are Black. Black midwives are crucial to the movement to improve birth outcomes and experiences for Black women and babies. Increasing the number of Black licensed midwives would improve community awareness about midwifery care and impact birth outcomes for all birthing people.

The California Black Student Midwifery Fund will advance the profession of Licensed Midwifery through a multi-level funding program developed by the  Black Midwives Advisory Group. The structure is designed to reduce barriers to midwifery practice at each stage from education to practice.  The Fund provides an educational scholarship, grants for licensing fees and practice capital for newly licensed midwives who are Black identified.

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