Thursday, September 25, 2008

Closer to legal access to midwives in a home setting

Hello GA Friends of Midwives,

Once again, we are moving closer and closer to having legal access to
midwives in a home setting! Last month, I met with Rep. Stephanie Benfield,
midwife Debbie Pulley, Dr. Ford (the Director of the Georgia Department of
Health) and four of her colleagues. We briefed them on the March 2007
Direct Entry Midwifery Study Committee’s recommendations to reinstate the
certification of direct entry midwives in the state of Georgia. We answered
many questions regarding the cost savings (I informed them that a typical
vaginal hospital birth is about $10,000, a cesarean about $20,000 vs
$2,500-3,000 for a homebirth with a direct entry midwife). We talked about
avoiding language in our final recommendation that would hold back up
physicians responsible for birth outcomes of the midwives they collaborated
with- as this would prevent physicians from providing back up! We discussed
the fact that we eventually want to see a birth center (or a couple!) open
in Atlanta, staffed by midwives and serving low-risk mothers. And of course
we talked about the safety of homebirth and referenced other countries who
use more midwives and less medical-birth technology and who subsequently
loose fewer babies and mothers at the time of birth than the US; that it’s
time for the state of Georgia to join the 26 other states who look at
scientific evidence instead of bureaucratic red tape and once again certify
direct entry midwives.

We have taken the next step which was for us to nominate individuals to be
part of the Midwifery Task Force, working with the Department of Health to
look at neighboring states and the processes they went through as they made
regulatory changes to certify direct entry midwives. The Midwifery Task
Force will consist of a DEM, CPM, OBGYN, lay person, Rep. Benfield, etc. We
will work together to write specific language for regulatory changes that
will then be submitted to the Commissioner/ Director of the Division of
Public Health (Dr. Elizabeth Ford) who will submit them to the Health and
Human Services Committee for review and comments. According to Rep.
Benfield, the HHS Committee has no power to change the language of the
proposed regulatory changes. The Committee will then recommend the
regulatory changes and they will then be approved by the board.

I commented to Dr. Ford that we would love to see this process sped up!
That this has been dragged out for far too long! She laughed and told me
she can’t promise that. I also wanted to share with you all that at the end
of the meeting with Dr. Ford and her colleagues, everyone began exchanging
business cards. Everyone except for Dr. Ford’s four colleagues- they
scribbled their contact info on scrap paper. Rep. Benfield then commented
on the fact that state employees were told not to ask for anymore
state-provided stationary due to low funds. This was the perfect
opportunity for me to comment on the fact that perhaps one of the reasons
the state of Georgia cannot afford stationary for its employees is because
it’s spending $10-20,000 on hospital birth for women who are not insured or
are underinsured! !! Certify homebirth midwives and they will have funds to
redirect into other areas!!! (Although I’m sure stationary is low on the
priority list.)

I am confident we left a lasting impression and that it won’t be too much
longer before we can actually open up the phone book and find homebirth
midwives legally listed right there in the business section! That we can
soon birth with homebirth midwives without fear of erroneous felony charges
or charges of practicing medicine without a license. After that is
accomplished, we will work towards requiring insurance companies in the
state of Georgia to pay for direct entry midwives in out-of-hospital

If you have read this far, thank you! If you would like to volunteer for
GFOM in some capacity below, please email me privately at

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Thank you for your continued support.


Jennifer Fargár


Jennifer Fargár
Chairperson, GA Friends of Midwives
Certified Birth Doula (ALACE)
Birth Consultant & Post Partum Doula
Author: Preparing for Your Homebirth: A Guide

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