Alabama representatives passed a bill today that would allow midwives to legally practice in Alabama. Known informally as the decriminalization bill, HB 315 was passed 84-11 after a debate and several tabled amendments.It's the first time a pro-midwife bill has made it to the House floor for a vote.
"It was a milestone for these mothers who want this freedom and the choice to have natural home childbirth, where it's not restricted by the government," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton.
Currently, most midwives can't legally deliver babies in Alabama, and home birth is only legal if it is not attended by a midwife or other professional. Non-nurse midwives have not been legally practicing in Alabama since 1975.
This bill would exempt midwives from criminal charges as long as they hold a current midwifery certification from an accredited organization. The bill would also make the practice of lay midwifery a criminal offense. The bill passed after some debate on the floor.
Lending her lifetime support of the bill, like Rep. Laura Hall (D-Madison) had "It's been a long road to even get to this point." Midwifery advocates have been introducing midwife decriminalization bills for more than a decade. She and several other representatives pointed out that they, too, were delivered by midwives.