Alabama Political Reporter
A bill that would decriminalize the practice of midwifery is on its way to the Alabama Senate after it was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 10.
The amendment would require non-certified midwives to obtain liability insurance before they could practice in Alabama. The insurance would cover at least $100,000 per occurrence.
In addition to the liability insurance, the amendment would also require non-certified midwives to create an emergency plan with their clients if anything goes awry during the birth.
The debate between the committee members hinged upon the idea if midwives should be held liable if anything goes wrong with the patient they are serving. The bill in its original state would have allowed for midwives to be exempt from fault if there was an emergency during birth.
The bill’s sponsor Representative Ken Johnson (R- Moulten) said that midwifery is being held to a different standard than other emergencies.
“All of life has potential emergencies that can arise,” Johnson said.
Senator Phillip Williams, R-Gadsen, said that comparing midwifery to everyday activities is not an accurate comparison. Williams said it is “pre-meditated” and cannot be compared to accidents that happen without intention.
Williams proposed an amendment that would add liability insurance as a requirement for non-certified midwives practicing in Alabama.
This amendment was met with some resistance by Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) who said she still has an issue with the amendment’s language.
“If we don’t get that language on there, its got no hopes of passage and that would be a shame,” Williams said in response.
The two reached a compromise with only passing part of the amendment promising to resolve the language issue on the floor.
Senator Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) said that he plans to contest the bill on the Senate floor. He called the bill “too broad.”
“I have some serious concerns about this bill,” Albritton said.
The final vote was 9-2 with the bill getting a favorable report by the committee. The next step is the Senate. If it passes there it will end up on Governor Ivey’s desk.
Bills that would decriminalize midwifery have been proposed 13 times since it was made illegal in the mid-70s. In addition to House Bill 315, there is another bill in the House that would require midwives to practice in birth centers being sponsored by Representative April Weaver (R-Andalusia).