Sen. Laura Fine

SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to improve health care access and affordability for pregnant women, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) introduced a measure to establish a permanent licensure pathway for freestanding birth centers, which passed committee Tuesday.

“As health care disparities continue to widen in our state, it’s important that we increase access to quality, affordable health care,” Senator Fine said. “A pathway to permanent licensure for freestanding birth centers will create more opportunities for the women who rely on their services.”

Senator Fine’s legislation would create the Birth Center Licensing Act, lifting the current cap on the number of freestanding birth center licenses so more women, especially those experiencing health care disparities, have access to the birthing style they prefer. Freestanding birth centers would still be regulated under the Alternative Health Care Delivery Act, and licenses would have to be renewed every year.

Freestanding birth centers are a lower-cost option for expectant mothers seeking a more homelike approach to childbirth and who do not want a hospital setting. There are currently just two freestanding birth centers in Illinois that provide this style of care.

“Women should be able to choose between a home birth, a hospital birth and the choice in between: freestanding birth centers,” Senator Fine said. “Lifting the licensure cap for birth centers will be an immense help for Illinoisans seeking a certified nurse midwife to help them bring their child into the world.”

House Bill 3995 passed the Senate Health Committee and now goes to the full Senate.