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Committee votes down midwife bill

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Pregnant women in Alabama who want their babies delivered outside a hospital by a midwife will have to continue to travel to another state or break the law.

The House Health Committee voted 8-4 Tuesday to defeat a bill that would have set up a process to register and license midwives. Alabama is one of 10 states that prohibit what's called direct-entry midwifery, which allows someone other than a nurse or doctor to attend a birth outside a hospital.

This is at least the third time the bill, sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, has been considered in the Legislature in recent years.

Dozens of supporters of the legislation, mostly young women, filled a meeting room at the Statehouse when committee members turned down the legislation, which was opposed by most groups representing doctors, nurses and hospitals. Many of the women wore T-shirts that said "Alabama Mothers Deserve Midwives" and some brought their babies and young children with them to the meeting.

Jennifer Moore, a certified professional midwife, lives in Birmingham but practices across the Alabama line in Ardmore, Tenn., where direct-entry midwifery is legal. She said midwives provide more personal care to women while they are pregnant.

"This room is full of mothers from Mobile to Huntsville, who want access to licensed midwives," Moore said.

Danne Howard, vice president for government relations of the Alabama Hospital Association, said the bill would not have provided needed formal training for midwives. She said medical training is needed before a person delivers a baby, partly because of the possibility of an emergency.

"Without formal training, how do you know what to look for?" Howard said.

Several legislators who voted against the bill said they were also concerned that it did not provide for sufficient medical training.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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