Roll Call and Next Steps

I promise to write about the road-trip-to lobby-with-children part of yesterday and upload the pictures as soon as I am done sorting them.

As far as the legislation goes, here is the roll call for the vote to pass HB226 out of committee yesterday:

Yes:

Mary Flowers

Keith Sommer

Mike Zalewsk

Julie Hamos (subbing in for Esther Golar)

No:

Greg Harris

Will Burns

Lisa Dugan

Karen May

Mike Connelly

Joanne Osmond

Rosemary Mulligan

Tim Schmitz

There is re-grouping happening to decide next steps, but what is clear today is:

  • – Rep. Julie Hamos deserves tremendous appreciation and support from all of us who support this effort, because she has gone all out to make it possible for women in Illinois to have the choice to give birth at home.
  • – We have our work cut out for us to turn these nos into yeses! If we are to succeed, we must talk to representatives across the city and state. If you haven’t done so, please consider calling, writing a letter to your representative – or even better, go to see them and give them information about why a mother might want to birth at home vs. the hospital and ask them to do every thing they can to support this bill the next time they see it. You can look up your legislators here: http://www.ilga.gov/ If they are a supporter already – please thank them!

If you want to call, write, or visit and haven’t gotten around to it, please let me know and I will help!

What I Wrote Before Collapsing Into Bed Last Night (reposted from Facebook)

We are home and settling in. The hearing was packed and the hallway outside was lined with mamas and babies and kids and dads. I was barely able to get into the room but was able to speak to two Reps in person beforehand – Rep. Osmond, who just doesn’t get it and was not open to hearing new information at all (but was very sweet to the kiddos) and Rep. Currie who is the House Majority Leader (but not on the committee) and is doing all she can (and was even sweeter to the kids).

But it didn’t have the votes. A few of the reps really showed that they don’t understand why women want to give birth at home and why midwives don’t “just go to school to be nurses.” So, despite the tremendous showing, and a two-hour hearing with lengthy questions and answers – including supportive MD testimony, the bill was not passed out of committee. We needed 3 more votes. Yet, there were signs of progress with some of the committee members and potential openings and next steps. More tomorrow – w/ pictures!

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.

Homebirth Safety Act Update

Happy New Year!

Sadly, Illinois’ legislative session has come to a close and the Homebirth Safety Act – SB385 – did not make it out of its committee. A new session has begun and now the bill starts over. Stay tuned to find out if it keeps the same number. In the meantime, if you have not contacted your state legislators (senators and representatives) to let them know that you support licensing direct entry midwives, please do!

Update Part II:  We have a new bill and a new number for the Homebirth Safety Act: HB 226. For more info on advocacy and the Srpingfield rally visit Illinois Families for Midwifery.

Action Alert in Illinois

Work to license direct entry midwives in Illinois has been happening for many, many years. The state nurses association has recently changed its position to neutral on the current bill in the legislature – which is a hugely positive development. This could be the moment we make it happen!

If you support the option for pregnant women in Illinois to have safe homebirths with midwives of their choice, please take a moment to look up and call your state representative to ask him or her to vote yes on SB385 in the last two days of this session: January 12th or 13th. Please also consider joining the two-day rally in Springfield to show your support in person.