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Midwives seek approval from Senate

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–Senate Health Subcommittee concerning midwifery, SB314, gave its report to Health Committee Chairman Greg Reed (R-Cordova) on Wednesday.

Two senators were assigned to the committee: Senator and bill sponsor Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) and Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville). Senator Bussman was appointed as chairman.

This bill would legalize out-of-hospital midwifery so Certified Professional Midwifes (CPM) could assist with home births. There are 26 states that license professional midwives. “None of those states, to my knowledge, have repealed that bill or has seen an increase in mortality and negligence,” said Senator Bussman.

“I think at this point the one thing we have to know and we have to discuss is home births are increasing and we know home births in Alabama are on the rise. We all in the group agreed that there was nothing being done to address this situation with the increase in home births. It was a very important point that we look at home births and how to make those as safe as possible for people that choose to go down that road,” said Senator Bussman.

He said that there are many unresolved issues with the midwife issue among the sub-committee members and presently the medical association and the other organizations continue to oppose CPMs.

The report stated that the areas of contention in the subcommittee were:
Safety of the mother and unborn/newborn child
Credentials, training and education of the CPM
Professional liability as it relates to the CPM, physicians, hospitals and emergency care.
Effect this law will have on existing/future practice of Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM).
Board makeup and authority
“There are studies en masse on this issue and when you look at the studies you have to compare the countries, compare states, you have to compare many thing as apples to apples,” said Senator Bussman.

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Senator Bussman’s recommendation to the committee was: “We have done the studies about the issue and I think it would be appropriate to vote this term if we want that in Alabama or we don’t want that in Alabama. I think that is only fair to the people that participated so we can tell them we are either going to move forward with it or that is something that we don’t want in Alabama right now.”

Senator Dial said, “Today I couldn’t support the bill in front of us. Now if the bill had substantial changes to it and addressed some of these issues then I would be more than willing to look at it. My recommendation is that if we are going to go forward with a vote there should be substantial amendments brought to this bill before I can be able to support it.”

Senator Reed said that he didn’t know that there had ever been this level of detailed study devoted to this topic by the Health Committee in the Senate but he wanted to make sure that we went through this process.

Senator Reed will make decision as to how to move forward with legislation based on the reports. The decision will be made public before the agenda is set for the next committee meeting.

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