Protect Moms & Babies during COVID-19

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TO:       Governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker, President of the Senate Don Harmon, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, President Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, House Majority Leader Greg Harris, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, The Illinois Department of Public Health, The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

COVID-19 THREATENS THE HEALTH OF PREGNANT MOTHERS AND THEIR NEWBORNS.  ILLINOIS SHOULD IMMEDIATELY PROVIDE LICENSURE TO CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL MIDWIVES 

As the COVID-19 Pandemic has spread through Illinois, many healthy low-risk pregnant women have determined that they do NOT want to go to the hospital for their upcoming birth.  But they are discovering that there are currently only 11 legally recognized home birth practices in Illinois -- located in just 9 of 102 Illinois counties; and

While health care facilities are currently capable of handling the influx of Coronavirus cases, that situation could change rapidly; and

As of April 2017, 55% of Illinois counties do not have ANY obstetricians or hospitals providing labor and delivery services; and

Due to the current scarcity of legal home birth providers, approximately 40% of the babies born at home in Illinois are born either with no skilled assistance at all (unassisted home birth) or they are born into the hands of underground community midwives; and

Last year, as mandated by Senate Joint Resolution No. 14, the Home Birth Maternity Care Crisis Study Committee was created and met through the summer and fall; and

The Committee’s UNANIMOUS recommendation is that the best solution to address this crisis is to license and regulate Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs); and

Childbirth is the second most common reason for hospitalization.  During a pandemic, home birth reduces contact between infected individuals and pregnant/birthing/newly postpartum women and newborns.  When Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) attend home births, hospitals can utilize their resources and staff for more seriously ill patients, while simultaneously protecting healthy mothers and babies from the risk of infection; and 

Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are the only U.S. birth providers who receive specialized clinical training in managing low-risk, out-of-hospital births as a condition of their national certification; and

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for trained professionals to attend births in home settings is imperative and immediate; and

35 of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia protect their citizens by setting educational standards for licensing and regulating community midwives;  including the surrounding and nearby states of:  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky; and

Research has shown that when States fully integrate midwives into their systems, families experience better outcomes, including more spontaneous vaginal deliveries, higher rates of breastfeeding, fewer preterm births, fewer underweight newborns and fewer surgical cesarean section deliveries.  Here in Illinois, African American women are DYING from pregnancy and childbirth at SIX TIMES the rate of white women.  This racial disparity transcends education and income levels. 

In an effort to fight COVID-19, we, the undersigned, are calling for an IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY ORDER granting licensure to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) as set forth in HB5629 and SB3851, known as the CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL MIDWIVES PRACTICE ACT (CPMPA) , to provide for the licensure of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and for certain limitations on the activities of licensed midwives; create the Illinois Midwifery Board; set forth provisions concerning application, qualifications, grounds for disciplinary action, and administrative procedures; amend the Regulatory Sunset Act to set a repeal date for the new Act of January 1, 2031; amend the Illinois Insurance Code, the Medical Practice Act of 1987, the Nurse Practice Act, and the Illinois Public Aid Code to make related changes.

In addition, we call for emergency funding to be provided to initiate and support licensure administration within the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the immediate integration of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) into the exisiting state disaster/pandemic management teams.