By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–A bill concerning midwifery in the state of Alabama, SB314, passed out of Senate Health Committee Wednesday.
This bill seeks to legalize out-of-hospital midwifery so Certified Professional Midwifes (CPM) could assist with home births. There are 26 states that license professional midwives.
Introduced in a public hearing last month it was sent to sub-committee for further review and study.
Two senators who were on the sub-committee, bill sponsor Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) and Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) gave their report to the Health Committee last week.
Several concerns were raised by committee members resulting in three amendment being presented for vote.
Sen. Dial presented the first amendment requiring liability insurance coverage between $1 and $3 million for the midwives should something go wrong during the birth. “One of the thing that concerned [the sub-committee] was the fact that there would be no liability, that if something went wrong then it would just go wrong and there would be no recourse for anybody involved. All health organizations have to have some responsibility and some liability,” said Sen. Dial.
Senator Linda Coleman (R-Birmingham) said, “[The amendment] seems like a lot to me. It is too much for me to see what kind of impact that amendment is going to have on this bill because it is just all throughout the bill. From day one I have told the midwifery, and I am a proponent, that there was concern even when I had the bill that there was no level of liability. I don’t know if that should be the level. I don’t know how much it is going to cost. We are not trying to put these people out of business.”
Sen. Dial’s amendment passed with a vote of 7-2.
Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Birmingham) added a second amendment to the bill relieving hospitals and physicians who treat the patients after a mishap during the home birth from civil liability. “I am a proponent of the bill. I think this amendment strengthens it,” said Sen. Waggoner. The amendment was approved by a vote of 9-0.
The third amendment was presented by Senator Slade Blackwelll (R-Birmingham) requiring all CPMs to pass the test required for Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) and add another member to the board of directors. He said, “My amendment was to increase the level of certification for the bill. What this will do is put it on the same level as a nurse-midwife has to pass. So to me, and my wife is a general surgeon, she has gone through college, medical school, residency and all of these years of training. To deliver babies at home we just want to make sure that they have good certification.”
“I cannot practice with the restrictions in the amendments,” said Jennifer Crook, CPM, MA,MPH who is with the Alabama Birth Coalition. She said that the restrictions in the first and third amendments would be prohibitive for her to practice in the state of Alabama.