Alabama Political Reporter
House Bill 344 has been raising questions among pro-midwife advocates.
A midwife is a trained professional who delivers children outside of a hospital. They also provide post-partum and prenatal care. Midwives assisting a woman during homebirth is currently illegal in Alabama.
HB344 would require midwives to practice at “birthing centers.” It would also make home births attended by a midwife in Alabama, a crime that would carry a felony offense. Currently, it is only a misdemeanor offense.
The bill does specify that birthing centers could not be hospitals but did require them to be near hospitals. It also required them to be licensed to provide prenatal, post-partum and birthing care.
Jennifer Crook, vice-president of the Alabama Midwife Alliance, said the bill would lead to worse maternity care.
The Alabama Midwife Alliance have been the main proponents of the bills in legislation that would make midwifery legal. They are an organization that serves as a network for midwives and also advocate for the legal status of midwives in Alabama.
“There is not a midwife on the planet that who could legally practice under their proposed legislation,” Crook said. “Which would only further restrict Alabama mothers already limited access to maternity care services.”
April Weaver (R-Andalusia) is sponsoring HB344. Prior to serving as a public official, Weaver held positions at hospitals across Alabama as an administrator including a position in legislative affairs. Weaver has since retired from her position as Director of Business Development at Shelby Baptist Medical Center.
In addition to House Bill344, there are other midwife bills are currently being funneled through committees in the Legislature. These bills would allow for a regulating board for midwives. A similar commission is set up in Tennessee.
HB334 is still in the House Health Committee and has not been voted on.