Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home Birth in Nebraska: LB 712

Goodmorning! Today is Brighton's birthday. He's turning four. FOUR!! In short, his birth was a very special one for this family. And this may be an unusual birthday post (especially compared to previous years posts), but since I spoke specifically about his home birth in my testimony for LB 712 last month, this is the post where I show a short homemade video (complete with the scrolling words of my recent public testimony).

So for those friends who are only here to see that, you're excused from the rest of this blather. Feel free to skip on down to the showcased video. You're welcome.

For those who haven't heard my past rantings about Nebraska legislation or about our loooong drive across two state lines or about our horrifying statistics or about my previous letters to the HHS committe or my husband's writings on birth or his previous letters to the HHS committee, or some of our Nebraskan doctor's issues with natural birth, I'll try to keep this summary relatively short.

Today, Alabama and Nebraska are the only two states who continue to forbid a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) to attend a home delivery (see statute 38-613). In fact, our statutes actually make it a Class IV Felony. Furthermore, most lay midwives (DEMs) have received cease and desist orders. This falls under 38-1,124 (2) in Nebraska Statutes which addresses the legality of practicing a profession without a state-recognized credential:
Every credential holder shall report to the department the name of every person without a credential that he or she has reason to believe is engaged in practicing any profession or operating any business for which a credential is required by the Uniform Credentialing Act... Practice of such profession or operation of such business without a credential after receiving a cease and desist order is a Class III felony.
Therefore, if you want to have a home birth in Nebraska, your options are:
  1. leave our state when you go into labor (you have options in all 5 bordering states)
  2. find a midwife who is willing to face charges of a Class III or Class IV felony
  3. birth unattended
...and we have hundreds of women who do all of the above (over 400 in the last five years, alone). Our Nebraska home birth rate is actually increasing at a faster rate than the national average. We all know it's time to provide more options to these families who birth out-of-hospital for religious, medical, previous trauma, philosophical, or for other personal reasons.

This year, LB 712 was introduced. Its purpose was to strike the words that currently forbid a Certified Nurse-Midwife to attend a home birth. This 2012 legislative session is very short with no real possibility of the bill being moved to the floor in time for a debate and passing vote. Nevertheless, that didn't stop Nebraska Friends of Midwives from getting their foot in the door and gladly utilizing two valuable hours before the Health and Human Services Committee. If nothing else, it paves the way for next year's new session. I must say that it was a very jittery experience, for me. My husband took three days off work to get me there. It required two full days of driving for my family of six just so that we could be at the Capitol for one day of testimony. And despite fumbling over a few words and phrases, I made it through without throwing up. Success! I want to personally thank all the other supporters who came to testify, or who sent in written testimony, or who came to the Capitol to support those of us testifying, or who spread the word about LB 712 by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, media interviews, or by word of mouth. We'll only accomplish this tremendous task by working together and using ALL our resources.

And here's the entire hearing line-up, in order. Many thanks to Dorothy Jones for grabbing up her camera and recording the rest of the testimony from home:

Senator Haar: http://youtu.be/WKOjkyHEjoQ

Rachel Howell, Chairwoman of NFoM, starts off testimony while summarizing who will be speaking, here: http://youtu.be/wqm081jDTEw
Rebecca Hasty speaks on her two home births in Nebraska with MD support many years ago, here: http://youtu.be/idx-AB78GjA
Ann Seacrest, RN, speaks about her involvement 30 years ago to draft and pass legislation that would recognize Certified Nurse-Midwives. She also explains how the home birth exclusion evolved: http://youtu.be/wDI9CEy-CFw
Bridget Wieczorek, CNM, speaks on behalf of the Nebraska affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives here: http://youtu.be/msiBfMns3gk
Shaye Miller, MLS, M.Ed., speaks about her first home birth experience after moving to Nebraska. Her first two babies were born in a hospital and her second two babies were born out-of-hospital (one across state lines with a midwife, the other was unattended in Nebraska): http://youtu.be/FnXDibfCZr0
Karen Loll speaks on her experience of desiring a home birth for her third baby and choosing to birth unassisted at home when there were no other options: http://youtu.be/1KlXwdOMgq
Kristen Treat, MS, PLMHP is a Certified Doula and mental health professional in the state of Nebraska. She speaks about her experiences in both arenas, here: http://youtu.be/PIMr99JSx2o
Matt Sherman shares his perspective as a father: "We would like our next birth to be private modest economical and safe." His testimony is found here: http://youtu.be/o7Pd825VVdQ
Heather Swanson, MSN, CNM, FNP, IBCLC and Family Nurse Practitioner speaks on behalf of Nebraska Nurses Association and herself: http://youtu.be/zO3hlCZsPlg
Rebecca Wells, CNM, speaks about the high-tech nature of hospitals and the increase in home births in Nebraska, here: http://youtu.be/FQwqTm5P01s
Liz Cody is a student working toward becoming a CNM. She speaks about these choices being made after much research and our duty to support these families: http://youtu.be/gQWu5t4caVY
Ben Gotschall is the Energy Director for BOLD Nebraska and the Lancaster County Industry Plant President of Nebraska Farmer's Union. He speaks about personal choice and his experience working with mothers and families out on dairy farms: http://youtu.be/L98sC3gfzdE

Joann Schaefer, MD and Chief Medical Officer of the state of Nebraska and Director of Division of Public Health speaks about how "there's been no compelling evidence" that would change their position on this bill: http://youtu.be/E1rq255WdU8
Todd Pankraz, OB/GYN, eludes to this being a safety issue and not a choice issue. He also uses the Wax study (which he admits isn't good research) to make his argument: http://youtu.be/W_DeLO603iI

Senator Haar: (I have this MP3, and will eventually get it loaded. He did a FABULOUS job!)
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