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New law expands birth center accessibility

Provides more options for expecting mothers

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Laura Fine.

Pregnant women will have more options on where to deliver under a new law sponsored by State Sen. Laura Fine that establishes a path to permanent licensure for freestanding birth centers.

“Expecting mothers should have the ability to choose their birth style without limitations caused by a lack of freestanding birth center licenses in their area,” Fine, whose district includes parts of Evanston, said.

“Whether a pregnant woman is seeking a certified nurse midwife or they simply want a lower-cost birthing style, lifting the licensure cap for freestanding birth centers will help increase access to birth centers across Illinois.”

Sen. Fine’s legislation creates the Birth Center Licensing Act, lifting the current cap on the number of freestanding birth center licenses, so more women, especially those in marginalized communities, have access to the birthing style they prefer. Freestanding birth centers will still be regulated under the Alternative Health Care Delivery Act, and licenses will have to be renewed every year.

Freestanding birth centers are a lower-cost option for expectant mothers seeking a more homelike approach to childbirth who do not want a hospital setting. There are currently just two freestanding birth centers in Illinois that provide this style of care.

“All families should have the right to pick a birth plan that best fits their situation,” said State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), who sponsored the bill in the House. “Making freestanding birth centers widely available as a low-cost alternative to hospitals will give expectant mothers the opportunity to choose an affordable option for where to have their child. I’m proud this legislation will help get new lives off to a fair start.”

House Bill 3995 was signed into law Friday and takes effect immediately.

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