Ms. Catania Goes to Springfield (again)

I haven’t been to our state capitol since I was with my mom (former State Rep. Susan Catania) in the seventies and early eighties.

It is the stuff of legend – ok well, the stuff of lots of family stories anyway – as one of very few women in the legislature, she was a rarity in 1974. But an elected nursing mother was completely unheard of. When I was a nursling she took me (and later my two younger sisters) with her when the House was in session and breastfed me in the first-ever, just-installed, women’s restroom off the House floor. She brought us with her periodically for inaugurations and the like over the next ten years of her service. But, I haven’t made the trip since she left office in 1982.

The time has come to return and speak up for an important bill, HB226, The Homebirth Safety Act. It will give more mothers in Illinois the option I had when I lived in another state – to labor and give birth safely, at home, with the licensed midwives of their choice.

Illinois has a reputation of being the most hostile state in the nation to midwives – even going so far as to arrest and prosecute them. My mom sponsored the first similar legislation 30 years ago and the powerful lobbyists of the medical associations have fought it tooth and nail ever since. It’s legal to give birth alone at home in Illinois – but illegal for a trained, direct-entry midwife to assist.

So I’m going to Springfield to join the effort to dispel outdated myths and fear by offering evidence about the safety of contemporary homebirth and information about the particular strengths of this bill.

I’m heading down this Tuesday with both of my children and posting here when I can, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. There is still a spot for another grown-up in my car if you’d like to come with in real life! Or if you can’t, please just attend virtually by checking my posts!

If you’re in Illinois and you’d like to support the effort, please visit http://www.ilga.gov to look up your representative and then give them a call to ask them to do everything they can to help the bill into law. If you are out of state and you can help financially, Illinois Families for Midwifery can use as generous a donation as you can give.

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