Currently there are not enough legal, licensed providers to serve the approximately 800 - 1,000 babies born at home in Illinois every year. Even without legal access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in our state, Illinois women continue to seek out midwives for homebirths. And what happens? Unlicensed midwives fill in the gaps - "delivering" babies for many families. But without regulation, there is no assurance that a particular midwife is skilled, and that adequate protections are in place for the mothers and newborns.
Most states have standards that allow for the licensing of midwives. But here, without licensing, families don't have access to all the screenings available for their new baby, cannot easily get a birth certificate and don't have standard patient protections. In the worst-case scenario, they can't smoothly transfer from home to a hospital if they face complications during their birth.
The lack of licensing for midwives in Illinois puts mothers and babies at risk.
The Home Birth Safety Act, SB 3712, protects mothers and newborns. The bill would form a Midwifery Board in Illinois that would oversee the licensing of nationally Certified Professional Midwives. It sets a high standard for certification, and requires midwives to consult with other providers when birth complications arise. The Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing has co-written the bill language, with the health and safety of Illinois mothers and newborns in mind.
The bill has passed out of committee in the Illinois House, and needs to pass the full House and Senate to be sent to the governor. After 30 years of effort, it's time for Illinois to join the majority of states, and allow for the licensing of professional midwives.
September 27, 2010
I’m writing you to ask you to vote YES to the Home Birth Safety Act, currently amended to SB 3712
(House Amendment 001).
Every year approximately 800 babies are born at home in Illinois. Yet in Illinois, only 6 out of 102 counties have legal, licensed home birth providers (certified nurse-midwives or doctors).
These few practices cannot adequately provide care for so many families.
As a result, families are resorting to giving birth at home unassisted (the national rate for this increased by 10% last year) or crossing the border to give birth in hotels in “legal” states such as Wisconsin, or working with underground midwives.
Underground midwives cannot legally carry life-saving oxygen or anti-hemorrhage drugs. They cannot easily screen a newborn baby’s blood for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, and they cannot legally file birth certificates. In the event of a need for an emergency cesarean section, an underground midwife cannot call ahead to a hospital and ask to have an operating room ready because she is not part of the healthcare system. Precious, life-saving minutes can be lost in this way.
To improve the health and safety of Illinois babies whose mothers choose to give birth at home,
I urge you to bring these midwives into the system and require them to receive national certification as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). The CPM credential is recognized in 27 other states and is part of the Medicaid system in several states. Recent analysis showed that Washington state saved millions of Medicaid and private insurance dollars through use of Certified Professional Midwives.
SB3712 calls for the strictest educational requirements for CPM licensure in the United States. It also calls for CPMs to be able to dispense a specific list of life-saving medications. Indication, dosage and duration of treatment are all spelled out in the bill. There are no narcotics or prescriptive authority in the bill.
With home birth rates increasing rapidly across the country and a documented shortage of regulated home birth providers in Illinois, I appreciate your serious consideration of this matter.
Please help make Illinois home birth safer than it is right now. Please vote YES for SB3712.
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