Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Advocates push for Ala. midwifery legislation

Bear Bryant was delivered by a midwife before the state of Alabama stopped issuing licenses for midwives in the 1980s, according to Ballie Schantz, a member of a group on campus raising money to legalize the practice of midwifery statewide. Schantz’s group fundraises for the Alabama Birth Coalition, a non-profit, grassroots organization whose mission is to offer safer, healthier birth alternatives to mothers.

“A lot of people don’t want to go to the hospital and deal with all of the machines and drugs,” Schantz said. “They would prefer the experience of a home birth. Midwifery is illegal in Alabama, though, because they say it is unsafe.”

Schantz explained that midwives go through the same training as nurses and know all of the same procedures.

“It’s a little ridiculous that it’s illegal,” Schantz said. “A taxi driver can deliver your baby, an unlicensed person can deliver your baby, but a licensed midwife faces prosecution for delivering your baby.”

Ten states across the nation prohibit midwifery by statute, judicial interpretation or stricture of practice, according to the Midwives Alliance of North America.

“I can’t imagine doing it any other way,” said K.C. Vick, a junior in New College. “Doctors in hospitals often look at births more as an emergency situation instead of a natural and beautiful process. I want giving birth to be a unique, organic experience I can enjoy.”

Vick said she believes if people stopped talking negatively about pregnancy and started looking at it in a natural light, then birth would be much more enjoyable for women.

“I just learned the pain you experience during pregnancy runs along the same nerve endings as pleasure,” Vick said. “Midwives are highly-trained professionals who can help to make it a positive experience.”

Some female students, however, cringe at the thought of giving birth anywhere except inside the sterile walls of a hospital.

“I want a doctor and epidurals when I give birth,” said Ashley Thomas, a sophomore majoring in philosophy. “I don’t want to be at home with a midwife, because you never know when something is going to go wrong. I want to be in an environment that’s prepared to deal with any complications.”

Melody Hoffman, a sophomore majoring in communication studies, shared Thomas’ opinion.

“No, I would not have a midwife,” she said. “I want to be in a hospital with a practiced doctor.”

Schantz’s group of approximately 20 members is not trying to force midwifery on Alabamians. Instead, they simply want to give women the choice, Schantz said.

“Basically, from my standpoint, I think we should keep society open so the members of society can live their lives the way they want to,” said Josh Gray, a junior majoring in political science, and a member of the group. “If I were to marry someone who wanted to have a midwife, then that would be OK, because it’s really a personal decision for the mother.”

Gray and Schantz, along with other members of the group, recently hosted a walk to raise money for this cause. They are also planning to show a movie entitled “The Business of Being Born” in the Ferguson Center during the spring semester. A midwife will attend the screening to talk about her work and why the age-old option of home birth is still appealing to many women.

“I feel like if you have a relationship with a midwife, it will make you more comfortable giving birth to your baby,” said Alexandria Washington, a sophomore majoring in early childhood development. “You also have more options about where to give birth. I believe it’s just as safe, because while midwives may lack some of the high-tech equipment, they are just as highly trained as the staff in a hospital.”

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