martinez2014Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the Senate Licensed Activity and Pension Committee’s “no” vote on the Home Birth Safety Act:

This week has been a disaster for women’s health. In Washington D.C. and in Springfield, groups of men got together and dictated the choices women can make about their health, pregnancy and childbirth.

I am ashamed to say that special interests won out over women’s interests when the Senate Licensed Activity and Pension Committee voted on the Home Birth Safety Act on Wednesday.

With yesterday’s horrifying vote on the American Healthcare Act, women have fewer choices than ever with regards to their healthcare. And, sadly, this vote seeks to take away one more - a woman’s choice to have her baby at home. Additionally, it takes away an employment opportunity for women, as the majority of midwives are female.

Sarah Moore, from the Illinois Council of Certified Professional Midwives association, had this to say:
“As midwives, we have been fighting for 30 years to let families choose the way they bring babies into the world. We’ve been willing to compromise, but we’ve been met with opposition at every turn. I am disappointed that even with someone like Senator Martinez bringing this to the table, special interest groups found a reason to deny families this choice.”

The Home Birth Safety Act is not just about choice, however – it’s about responsibility. As the chair of the Licensed Activity and Pension Committee, it is my responsibility to make sure that the state is implementing safe and fair licensing standards for people to practice their chosen profession.

Home births are becoming increasingly common in Illinois and around the country – the rate has increased 77 percent between 2009-2014. In 32 states, women can have their home birth attended to by a licensed midwife. In Illinois, they have to use a midwife operating outside the system.

Let me be clear – home births will continue in Illinois. But because we allowed special interest groups to dictate our decision in committee this week, the women who choose this method to deliver their children will be less safe doing so.

I introduced this bill because I heard from women in my communities that there is a passionate desire for it. Now these women won’t even get the chance to hear an open debate on the issue on the Senate floor.

These shameful actions, silencing women and dictating their health care choices, have no place in Illinois.

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