Home Birth Families Rejoicing in South Dakota

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Tuesday, February 23 was a huge day for home birth families throughout the state of South Dakota. After nearly 25 years of legislative efforts, the members of the House of Representatives voted 54 – 13 (with 3 excused) to pass HB1162, the bill that would license and regulate Certified Professional Midwives. Representatives Langer, Soli, May, Deutsch, Brunner, Haugaard, Hunt, and Heinemann spoke in favor of the bill and Representative Hunhoff spoke against the bill.

The sentiment was that this is a bill whose time had come. Home births are rising across the country and tripled in South Dakota from 2007 to 2013. The Department of Health’s handout showed that only 56% of home births in the last 5 years were attended by Certified Nurse Midwives, leaving 44% with no provider to care for them. Could this be the reason we are seeing an increased death rate among home birth infants? We believe providing these families access to Certified Professional Midwives could greatly improve these rates.

Even the opposing speaker, praised the efforts of the organization bringing the bill for the way they have persevered and their willingness to work with the opposition. There are still areas of disagreement with the organizations who spoke against the bill, but everyone acknowledged that much progress has been made in addressing their concerns.

Representative Roger Hunt, who was the first legislator to work with home birth families on legislation and who primed many midwife bills during his years in the legislature, asked the members of the body to consider going green as a gift to him on his birthday. After the vote count was read, many legislators burst into applause and someone yelled “Happy Birthday, Roger!” It was a great day to be a midwife supporter at the Capitol.

You can listen to the House Health & Human Services Committee Hearing and the Floor Debate at this link. (click on the blue eagle and fast forward to the time listed)

HB1162 will now be sent to the Senate for consideration where it will be assigned to a committee for a hearing. All bills need to be passed by March 11, the last regular day of session.

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