Today, in Columbia, South Carolina, the freedom to choose where families give birth became endangered. While nothing has happened yet, by mid-June, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will exercise its authority to close any birth center it deems out of compliance with state statutes.
House Bill H.5002 was brought before a legislative subcommittee for approval to the main Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. The bill seeks to enhance and improve birth center laws and to bring all facilities under national standards. Speaking against the bill were several OBGYNs, along with the South Carolina Hospital Association and the South Carolina Medical Association. These people urged the panel to table the bill, because they want physician oversight for midwives in order for facilities to be open. Speaking in favor of the bill were several midwives who run birth centers in South Carolina, along with Commission for Accreditation of Birth Centers representatives and the South Carolina Birth Coalition. The proponents of H.5002 shared evidence-based statistics that show that the midwifery model of care is safe for mother and child.
In the end, the subcommittee urged its proponents to go back to the table with DHEC and work something out. The trouble is, DHEC’s representatives have refused to meet with them since November and the clock is ticking.
We are urging families — fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles — to please contact Gov. Nikki Haley, DHEC Director Catherine Templeton and their state representatives and senators, urging them to support H.5002. We want them to know that families should be able to choose where they give birth — not the state or some special interest group that ignores scientific evidence. We need to remind them that they work for the hard-working and freedom-loving taxpayers of South Carolina.
For me, this battle is personal. My husband and I welcomed our first child, a daughter, at Charleston Birth Place in May 2011 under the loving care of a certified nurse-midwife. When DHEC first threatened to close birth centers due to its reinterpretation, I stepped up to the plate with other brave women to start this campaign for South Carolina birth centers. Little did I know that I was already pregnant with my second child. This baby, a boy, is due in mid-August, two months past DHEC’s closure deadline. I have no desire to give birth anywhere else than Charleston Birth Place again. It is my mission to make sure they stay open, not only for me but for future families that deserve to have the same quality care that we received.
For more information, please visit www.savecbp.org or our FB group Campaign to Save Charleston Birth Place. And check out the attached PDF. It thoroughly explains our situation with DHEC and why birth center care matters. On SaveCBP.org, you will soon find a script that you can use when contacting state officials. If you don’t know who your local legislator is, please visit http://www.scstatehouse.
gov/index.php and enter in your address in the dialogue box at the bottom of the page.