Midwifery bill passes AL House, heads to Senate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Midwifery bill passes AL House, heads to Senate

The Alabama House passed a bill legalizing midwifes for births. (Source: WAFF) The Alabama House passed a bill legalizing midwifes for births. (Source: WAFF)
(WAFF) -

A birthing practice illegal for decades in Alabama has cleared the state House and now heads to the state Senate.

House Bill 315 passed with a 84-11 vote on Tuesday.

Bill sponsors said it's a huge milestone for expectant mothers who want the option of  having a midwife deliver their babies.

Alabama would become the 33rd state to allow midwives, so if the bill passes the Senate, it would no longer be a crime for someone who is certified and trained to deliver babies from home.

Jessica Thompson just had her fourth baby 11 days ago with the help of a midwife in Tennessee. She had to make the 45-minute drive to do that because of Alabama law.

"When you're in labor, it feels like three," Thompson said.

She gave birth to her first two children in the hospital but made the switch to midwives so she could have the option of a water birth.

"That's the one thing that I've hated with this one and the last one, having to put that tiny hour-old in a car seat or a three-hour-old, fresh baby in a car seat and drive anywhere. I hate driving them two days old from the hospital, I'd just rather be home," Thompson said.

She thinks our state is suffering from the lack of birth options.

"We have the highest preterm birth and infant mortality rate than any other state. We are the only state that only offers hospital births as a choice," said Katie Terry with Alabama Birth Coalition.

According to Alabama Birth Coalition, more than 30 counties in the state don't have access to a hospital, obstetrician or a gynecologist.

"So those families and mothers are having to travel over an hour for the nearest access of care," Terry said.

Opponents argue that hospitals are the safest place to give birth and don't want the liability of women with dangerous complications arriving already in labor.

"They (certified professional midwives) are trained and have the tools and everything they need in case of an emergency, and they establish great relationships with the hospitals and doctors in case of a transfer, so their prenatal care, they'll see signs or red flags just in case something could be wrong and they wouldn't take a non-healthy mother," Terry said.

The bill now goes to the Senate to vote on.

There's also House Bill 316 that would establish a state midwifery board to license and regulate the practice.

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