Proposed bill would legalize midwives to assist in home births

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The House Health Committee considered the Childbirth Safety Act of 2016 Wednesday, which proposes the creation of a State Board of Midwifery allowing certified midwives to attend at-home births in Alabama.

That proposed board would approve, suspend or revoke licenses; investigate and conduct disciplinary hearings; establish reasonable license fees; and determine the minimum initial and continuing education requirements for midwife licensing.

Under current laws, most midwives are not able to legally practice in the state of Alabama, and home birth is only legal if a midwife is not present.

Fled in early March as HB284, the bill is sponsored by Rep. Ken Johnson (R-Moulton), and co-sponsored by Representatives Mike Ball (R-Madison), Phillip Pettus (R-Killen) and Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw).

“What we’re talking about is not criminalizing people who want midwives,” Johnson said at Wednesday’s hearing explaining women shouldn’t be forced to drive to Tennessee or Mississippi to have their births assisted by midwives.

“They ought to have that right here in Alabama,” Johnson said.

According to the State Department of Public Health, only 29 out of 67 counties in Alabama have a hospital with delivery units. Johnson said midwives would be a great solution for those rural counties.

“Our rural healthcare has totally diminished,” he said.

The committee did not vote on the bill during the hearing.

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