HB 316 Pressing Forward

Hello again! Y’all, so much has occurred with the Childbirth Freedom Act (HB316) since I wrote about it last week. Not only was HB316 put on BAC committee’s agenda; but it was discussed on Wednesday’s hearing! This might not seem like extraordinary news, yet it is. Let me give you a little backstory:

Normally, each time the Alabama Birth Coalition (ABC) files a bill for the legislation, we have to find a sponsor and co-sponsor to introduce the bill into a committee. That used to be our hang up. Not one representative wanted to sponsor the bill. Clearly, this is no longer an issue; after introducing bills for 13 years. HB316 not only found Rep. Ken Johnson as a sponsor, but 35 co-sponsors. (WOW!) Then, the hang up became once the bill was in a committee. The bill would always be assigned to the Health Committee. That is where it would stay, never acknowledged; unless to be tabled for next time. There was always something more important to discuss than the safety of birthing options for Alabama mothers. (Like an official state cake, reptile, fruit, nut, and crustacean…just to name a few.) Last year was a big disappointment regarding our bill’s progression. It received sponsorship from Rep. April Weaver, Health Committee’s chairwoman. You would think the bill would have cruised right through on towards the Senate. Oh no, Rep. Weaver decided to postpone any discussion and systematically killed the bill. Which is the reason why having HB316 in a the BAC committee is such a victory. It is also why having HB316 discussed on Wednesday is such a huge step forward. We are closer than ever to having this type of legislation passed onto the Senate. At the hearing, HB316 was discussed at the end of the hearing. Supportive and opposing parties were able to speak, pleading their case. The decision was made to vote on it next week, so this Wednesday. Women involved with ABC are emailing, tweeting, calling, and any other form of communication, the representatives to vote in favor of HB316. Also, HB315 within the JUDY committee, will end the illegal status of having a home birth attended by a midwife. 

Back to Rep. April Weaver, she has made it known that she does not support midwifery in Alabama. This article by Bill Britt of alreporter.com shows the conflict of interest and web of scandal Rep. April Weaver has woven. Bill Britt Article In summary, she was appointed by Mike Hubbard (who was indicted on breaking 12 of 23 ethics violations) and her husband works as Associate Medical Director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (a major insurance company). Until last week, she served as the Director of Business Development for a major chain of hospitals within Alabama. She withdrew her employment while seeking the House Majority Leader position. (Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter narrowly won the House Majority Leader position.) Needless to say, she should not be allowed to serve as chairwoman on the Health committee at all, much less vote on any legislation regarding healthcare. 

Yet, she filed a bill (HB344) in the Health Committee, which calls for any out-of-hospital births to take place within a birth center that is located no more than 10 minutes from a hospital. Within the HB344, they refer to CPMs as “lay midwives”, which is not only incorrect terminology, but derogatory. 

There is also a list of exclusions for the midwife to go by before accepting a patient. If the patient has any of the mentioned issues, she would have to be referred to an OB. Basically, if you ever had a miscarriage, anemia, inflammatory bowel disease, have a pre pregnancy BMI index of less than 18.5 or more than 35, or mental health disease (depression); the midwife is not allow to accept you as a patient. (I would have been excluded. Although, 6 months ago I had a routine, uneventful water birth.) There are many more exclusions; however, these are ones that seemed the most obvious to the HB344 agenda. HB344 was filed to discredited the ability of CPMs and to restrain their ability to accept patients. A birth center 10 minutes from a hospital is not going to help the rural Alabama mother who already lives over an hour from the hospital. 

This is a great visual aid explaining the loss of OB service in rural Alabama. The counties in whites do not have a hospital that offers OB services. Women that live in these area either drive an hour or more for care (and labor) or drive to the neighboring state. Since the neighboring states offers CPMs and/or CNMs, traveling women pay out of pocket costs to have the midwifery model of care. Many times, it is cheaper to pay out of pocket than use insurance within Alabama for OB care. For instance, my AL OB birth cost us over $6,000 even with insurance. We paid $2,300 total in GA to use a CNM at a birth center with our second child. 

South Dakota has a pro-CPM legislation piece sitting on their Governor’s desk, waiting to be signed into law! They are the 32nd state to allow CPM services. Now, if we can only put our voices together and make Alabama the 33rd state to offer better birth options. Let’s be honest, the current birth option offered isn’t safe at a c-section rate of 36.5% and the highest infant mortality rate in the U.S. 

Alabama women, let your representatives know you support HB315 and HB316 and DO NOT support HB344. Let your voices be heard! 


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