by Rep. Darrio Melton
Expecting a child is one of the most exciting, terrifying and joyous time for a family. An expectant mother usually has a list of questions, plans and preparations to get ready for the big day, but whether she’ll get the appropriate level of care at the hospital shouldn’t have to be on the list with diapers and burp cloths.
But soon, expectant mothers in Alabama might have more to worry about than just bringing a new, healthy baby into the world.
Sixteen years ago, one Alabama family experienced a heartbreaking turn of events after the birth of their daughter. The mother, Rose Church, was released from the hospital 36 hours after giving birth, only to return with complications hours later, which later resulted in her death.
Her husband and daughter lobbied the Alabama Legislature to implement Rose’s Law, which would guarantee women 48 hours in the hospital for normal deliveries and 96 hours for complicated deliveries.
Fast-forward to 2015: the very same OB-GYN, who treated Rose Church (and who was named in her wrongful death suit) is now a State Senator, and he’s sponsoring legislation to repeal this law.
If Senator Stutts and his colleagues are successful, women can be discharged from the hospital regardless of their medical status–the decision will be made by insurance providers’ payment schedules and available space in the hospitals.
Not to mention, labor and delivery centers are closing around the state. In 1980, every Alabama county but eight offered obstetrical services. In 2014, just 29 of Alabama’s 67 counties offered labor and delivery services.
Many expectant mothers are driving 50 miles or more for delivery services, which increases rates of scheduled deliveries, a practice that has been discouraged by March of Dimes because it increases the risk of complications for both mother and baby.
The idea of someone kicking a new mother and newborn baby out of the hospital before she feels comfortably recovered is infuriating. I want all mothers and children to have the best care available, and I know most Alabama men feel the same.
Bringing healthy babies into the world isn’t a Democratic priority or a Republican priority. Giving women the care they need to safely deliver children and recover from the process shouldn’t be a partisan issue, either.
That’s why we have to fight the repeal of Rose’s law.
We have to make sure that all women have access to the care they need, and we have to look to women to make these decisions, not a legislature full of men who will never give birth.
Representative Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.