We are Justin and Tobie Southall. Our first child was born in a Texas birth center because we were impressed with the quality of care provided by midwives. After we moved to Alabama we had to drive almost two hours to Mississippi for the birth of our second child. That’s because the state of Alabama criminalizes midwives who practice outside the hospital!
We were shocked to learn that Alabama limits access to health care options which are freely available in other states. Alabama families who are seeking midwifery care are forced to decide among limited and difficult options. Those who want to deliver with a nurse midwife often find there are none attending births in their local hospitals. Other families must drive out of state in labor to birth with a licensed midwife. Some are able to hire midwives who are willing to risk prosecution for providing professional care at a home birth. Still others are left to birth alone because they cannot drive out of state and cannot find a midwife in their area.
It’s time for Alabama to pass laws that give its citizens access to qualified, licensed midwives in all settings. We are asking our elected representatives in Montgomery to recognize the need for access to midwives in the setting each family determines is most appropriate for them.
It is irresponsible of lawmakers and public health officials to oppose licensing of midwives claiming they are concerned about safety. If you are genuinely concerned about providing safe birth options, you must support passage of a Certified Professional Midwife licensing law, which will create immediate access to regulated, nationally-credentialed midwives. You must facilitate the integration of CPMs into Alabama’s health care system, in order to provide the best maternity care not just at home but also in the event of a transfer to medical care. Finally, you must support passage of a law removing practice restrictions on CNMs to ensure that all mothers receive the best maternity care in the setting of their choice.