Illinois governor signs maternal health bill into law

Illinois Statehouse

CHICAGO, Ill. (WEHT) Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed House Bill 3401 into law on Tuesday. The bill allows for the licensure and certification of midwives in the state of Illinois, helping to reduce maternal health issues.

“With the legislation I sign today, the lifesaving and lifegiving work midwives perform will be legally recognized here in Illinois. It’s a victory decades in the making and one that recognizes the full worth and value of midwives in reproductive care,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Most importantly, it ensures safe home births for every mother who chooses to deliver out-of-hospital – another step toward advancing health equity in communities across our state.”

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will be in charge of certifying midwives, making sure they are legally qualified, educated, and trained. The bill’s passing will create the Licensed Certified Professional Midwife Practice Act, which licenses people who perform out-of-hospital births and have earned the credentials to be a professional midwife. It will also allow the formation of an Illinois Midwifery Board, which would have the power to revise the act.

“With the signing of this legislation, Illinois becomes the 37th state to recognize Certified Professional Midwives as skilled, trained, competent professionals able to serve the people of Illinois,” said Barbara Belcore-Walkden, Acting President of the Illinois Council for Certified Professional Midwives. “We know that the way forward to integrating midwifery care in Illinois is found when Midwives, nurses, physicians, and hospitals can freely share information and work together to improve maternity outcomes across the state.”

Due to the pandemic, more soon-to-be mothers have turned to home births, in which midwives provide guidance before and during delivery, as well as postpartum care. The bill would allow not only for better professional standards for midwives, but also provide health equity–date shows that in Illinois, women of color are more likely to face complications from pregnancy-related conditions.

“Midwives are trained to do home births, but they haven’t been able to get the certifications they need to do that in this state,” said Representative Robyn Gabel, Assistant Majority Leader (D- Evanston). “This bipartisan bill will legitimize certified professional midwives, allowing them to form professional relationships with hospitals so they can transfer a baby if there’s ever any need. Ultimately, this initiative offers expectant parents another safe birth option for their families. I want to thank the Governor and all of the advocates who made this possible today.”

Earlier this year, Illinois became the first state in the nation to offer eligible mothers 12 months of postpartum care coverage through Medicaid. The law expands the covered post-partum providers to include community health workers, doulas, and certified midwives. This bill is effective October 1, 2022.

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