Got this in my inbox and wanted to share:
Many of you are supporters of normal birth and appreciate the accessibility of birth center and homebirth care in Florida. Here we enjoy legal homebirth, numerous birth centers, and mandatory Medicaid and insurance coverage of licensed midwife and nurse midwifery care. We also have two active midwifery schools.
In Georgia, one State away, there is not a single birth center and home birth midwifery is illegal. Midwives actually get arrested for doing home births there, and mothers looking for midwives have to find an “outlaw” midwife to attend them…you can bet they are not having Medicaid/ Insurance paid births up there at all! And Missouri has been going through terrible struggles trying get midwifery legalized, and the opposition to it is STRONG….
It is easy to forget how good we have it here.
Political circumstances over the next few years are doing to require a really strong family-mother/ consumer voice in support of midwifery. So we are going to need to come out of our quiet golden era where we have just coasted along with good conditions for birth. Its time to organize ourselves.
The great conditions we enjoy here are due to political organizing done in the 80′s and 90′s by The Florida Friends of Midwives. Consumers of Midwifery Care lobbied our government and got mother friendly laws passed in our State.
The first midwifery law was passed in 1980′s after much hard work by midwifery advocates. But then the law was reviewed in a process called Sunset review where all laws are looked at after a certain time. The American Medical Association came on strong against Midwives and the law closed, making midwifery illegal again and for 10 years the schools were closed and no midwives were issued licenses. It took ten hard years of moms writing bills, looking for a bill sponsor, and the lobbying in Tallahassee with babes in arms and baking cookies with the bill number on it to get the law we have now passed. It was actually a small miracle- a fast accidental breech homebirth of Governor Lawton Chiles grandchild, safely attended by a midwife working as an EMT since could not get a license, that finally turned the tide and got our law passed.
In 2009, the law will be reviewed again, or “Sunset Reviewed”. This is a potentially dangerous time, because as we learned in the 80′s, sunset review is a time when those who have economic interests that oppose midwifery care and homebirth may organize against us. Nationally, we are seeing very strong opposition to homebirth and we believe that there will be a significant and organized campaign against midwifery in Florida this sunset review.
Also, the way the State works, they charge each profession for certain regulating costs. Midwives are always “in the red” because we can not pay the costs required by the State due to the low number of licensees. This means that due to the way the book keeping is done*, it looks like regulating midwifery costs the State of Florida money. This is really bad in our times of budget cuts and lower tax revenues. It means that the State is actually considering deregulating midwifery, which would mean we would mean we would have no new midwives, the ones working would be able to work, and midwifery would be phased into illegality again.
Yes, homebirth midwifery is in danger of becoming illegal again in Florida if we do not organize to protect our birthing choices.
A yahoo group of midwife supporters has formed to discuss ways of organizing to be the voice of consumers in the coming year. You can also have fun and support each other and educate other women about birth! Please join and help organize to protect birth choice for you, your sisters, and your daughters!
If you write or blog, please pass on the word. Please forward this invitation to any interested parties.
Heidi Dahlborg, LM Sarasota
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