In Alabama, it is only legal for a midwife to assist in the delivery of a baby in the hospital -- not much point to that. A mother can legally give birth at home, but a midwife cannot legally assist there. Some Alabama mothers even choose to drive to neighboring states so they can give birth where midwifery is legal and regulated.
This subject has come up in the Alabama legislature before, with no success, but 2008 is a new year with new hopes for safe, legal, home childbirth.
... a landmark 2000 study published in the British Medical Journal shows home birth is as safe as hospital birth for low-risk North American women and carries a much lower rate of medical intervention.
Moreover, the American Public Health Association has endorsed increasing access to midwife-attended out-of-hospital maternity care services since 2001.
For healthy women, it's a question of choice. Current Alabama law denies them that choice. As a consequence, some expectant mothers drive to Tennessee, where a midwife may legally attend a birth outside of a hospital.
Clearing the legal way for more babies to be born at home is not just a women's issue. It's an issue for families and it has considerable bearing on controlling health care costs because birthing babies is a big business in this country, and Alabama parents have no safe alternatives to hospital birth.
There are two women on the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Coleman and Sen. Harri Anne Smith, and only one woman, Rep. Pebblin Warren, on the Health Committee in the House. Midwifery aside, I think we need more women on those committees -- in fact we need more women in the Alabama Legislature, period.
Here's the list of Alabama Representatives and Alabama Senators. Call and lobby them to support these bills. It's high time they got off their duffs and passed some useful legislation down there.