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Press Release: Obstructive Amendments Prevent Midwives from Practicing 

Alabama Birth Coalition

P.O Box 62, Harvest Al 35749





April 19, 2012

Obstructive Amendments Prevent Midwives from Practicing

Senate Bill 314 was voted out of the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, with a favorable recommendation. After nine years of grassroots effort, this is an accomplishment to be celebrated. The Alabama Birth Coalition publicly thanks its bill's sponsor, Senator Paul Bussman, for his resolve to pass the best bill possible for all parties involved. We thank Health Committee Chair, Senator Greg Reed, for his tremendous efforts to facilitate open discussion and bring SB314 to a vote, and we thank every senator who heard the concerns of home birth parents and gave SB314 a favorable vote.

We are also grateful to Senator Linda Coleman for recognizing the true intent of two of the amendments offered Wednesday. Following the public hearing of SB 314 on February 29th, two senators chose to ignore multiple opportunities provided by Senators Reed and Bussman to openly discuss their concerns and work out a solution that was agreeable to all stake holders. Instead, Senators Dial and Blackwell brought eleventh hour amendments that eradicate the original intent of the bill, and are a clear attempt to prevent out-of-hospital midwives from practicing. Based on the history of Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) legislation in other states, this is a typical method for defeating similar bills. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists admitted as much on page 5 of their August 2007 State Legislative Update: "It's the rare situation where we can defeat these [midwife] bills on the merits . . . These bills have been stopped—up to now—mainly by deft political maneuvering and hardball tactics employed by the State Medical Society, not by any persuasive testimony about comparative safety or quality of care."

The amended bill would require out-of-hospital midwives to carry a liability insurance policy with period limits of no less than $3,000,000. The average out-of-hospital midwife will see approximately 12-36 clients a year and charge clients a global fee of between $2,000 and $4,000. Requiring midwives to purchase insurance at a price that is financially prohibitive to their ability to practice is both unreasonable and discriminatory, given that no other Alabama health professional is required by statute to carry such insurance. (Medical professionals may be required to carry insurance by their employer, but are not required to carry insurance by Alabama code). Additional amendment restrictions prohibit midwives from obtaining laboratory analysis for routine prenatal and postpartum screenings and would forbid midwives from administering a standard formulary of appropriate medications, including the newborn eye ointment mandated by law. Nationally-credentialed midwives are trained in the use of such medications and would consider it unethical to practice without the ability to provide them to clients.

If licensed midwives cannot practice, parents will be left in the same predicament as before, and Alabama babies born at home will continue to be denied immediate access to a qualified, licensed care provider.  SB314 is still alive, and Alabama Birth Coalition will continue to work with Senator Bussman to pass the bill that provides Alabama families the safe care they need for their out-of-hospital births.