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Groups Urge MA Lawmakers to Bring Maternal-Health Bills Back

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022   

Groups that advocate for maternal health in Massachusetts are urging the General Court not to let legislation to increase access to out-of-hospital births go by the wayside.

The Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing recently sent nine bills relating to maternal health "to study," meaning they're unlikely to get any more activity this legislative session.

One bill would increase access and safety in out-of-hospital births, and another would increase access to nurse-midwifery services.

Tiffany Vassell is a labor and delivery nurse who is currently pregnant and planning a home-birth. She said home-births have increased during the pandemic, especially for Black mothers.

"When you have choices, such as being able to birth at home," said Vassell, "you can decide who you want present, you can you have more control over the birthing process, as opposed to it being very rigid in the hospital."

Vassell said it's important that Certified Professional Midwives are able to be licensed in Massachusetts, so that folks who prefer a home birth can find a provider they know is certified.

She added that Massachusetts is world-renowned for hospitals and medical care, and it's important to follow the example of 37 other states and pass these laws.

Emily Anesta, co-founder of the Bay State Birth Coalition, said licenses for Certified Professional Midwives and other provisions are necessary if there is to be equitable access to home births and birth centers in the Commonwealth.

She said without that system in place, it's not possible to properly build out the midwifery workforce.

"We can't push any of that forward until we have the most basic thing," said Anesta, "which is these midwives who already provide this care to be licensed and integrated into our health-care system."

Vassell emphasized the importance of choice when it comes to giving birth. She noted that Black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women in the U.S.

"Black women are shown to do better with home births than with hospital beds," said Vassell. "Hospitals can be very restrictive. A lot of times, you don't feel like the provider's listening to you. You feel very controlled, which is part of the reason also why I'm deciding on a home birth."




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