Central Delaware
As moms lobby, midwife regulation bill circulated in House
Christina Morris, Joan Greeley and Jennifer Antonik, all moms praising at-home births with midwives, rallied at Legislative Hall Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Jen Rini)

DOVER — For Christiana Morris, having her baby in the comfort of her own home was about empowerment.

“I was so sure of myself as a mother,” said the 30-year-old Harrington resident, as now 4-month-old Judah bounced on her hip.

She birthed her two older children in a hospital and felt completely disconnected from the process. It was too medical, too sterile.

“I wanted to experience my birth,” Ms. Morris said.

Ms. Morris was just one of 20 midwives, doulas and expectant mothers who visited Legislative Hall Wednesday to share such success stories of home deliveries with legislators.

They urged the lawmakers to pass legislation to allow non-nurse midwives to legally perform out-of-hospital deliveries for all expectant mothers who want one.

After nearly a year-long advocacy process, Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, finally circulated a bill that remedies an effort last session that increased the regulations for non-nurse midwives, putting them under fire.

The legislation, House Bill 194, aligned the penalties for unlicensed non-nurse midwives with those of unlicensed physicians and nurses. Since enacted on July 31, 2013, non-nurse midwives can now be fined up to $1,000 for practicing medicine illegally, for example, without a permit.

The offense is considered a Class F felony, with conviction carrying possible incarceration of up to three years. Additionally, it requires the midwives to seek a collaborative agreement with a physician.

The new legislation, sponsored by Rep. Baumbach, establishes a Midwifery Advisory Council that reports to the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline. It would be responsible for renewing and issuing licenses, as well as recommending supsensions to the board.

The movement to fix the regulations has been grassroots, said expectant mother Jennifer Antonik, 29, of Lincoln, but she is happy that there has been support in the legislature.

“We are trying to be a collective unit and fight for what is right,” she said.

Rep. Baumbach said the new midwives bill will be officially filed today.

AG Biden, Democrats introduce bill to protect active duty military

Members of the U.S. military and the Delaware National Guard will receive important consumer protections under legislation unveiled Tuesday.

The legislation creates a state-level version of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and gives Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III’s office the authority to enforce the new law.

The federal SCRA dates back to the Civil War and protects members of the military from having to defend themselves against most civil proceedings, such as foreclosure, while they are serving their country on active duty or are forced to move because of their military service.

The federal SCRA also protects servicemembers who have to break leases or contracts due to military deployment.

SB 206 incorporates these protections into a state law and also expands the SCRA by extending relief to members of the Delaware National Guard who are called into active military service for the State of Delaware for a period of more than 30 consecutive days. These Guard members are not covered under the current federal SCRA.

Staff writer Jen Rini can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow @DNSJen_Rini on Twitter.