Restrictions on maternal health services have sparked protests

“When we look at the other challenges of reproductive opportunity … and the times against the national landscape, we find it very worrying,” he said.

While the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on the future of abortion rights, patients’ advocates are outraged that the closure of the birth center has prompted Massachusetts lawmakers to submit several proposals to a legislative cemetery that would expand access to maternal health services.

Some of the proposals, advocates say, would help reduce the racial gap in maternal deaths, which are nearly three times higher nationwide among black women than among white women. In Massachusetts, state data show that black women are twice as likely as white women to become pregnant or within one year of childbirth.

In the last 12 years, seven hospitals Maternity units have been shut down across the state, including three in southeastern Massachusetts over the past three years, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

The North Shore Birth Center, sold out in a shack at Beverly Hospital, offers women with low- and medium-risk pregnancies the opportunity to give birth to their babies without birth control drugs and to control the pain control process.

Beth Israel Lahey Health data shows that births at Beverly Hospital have declined slightly in the last three fiscal years, but births at the birth center have actually grown.

“Beverly Hospital is committed to providing a full range of women’s health care services and will continue to provide a unique birth experience,” Dr. Mark Gendreau, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.

Gendreau said that although the delivery center is closing, the hospital will provide care to the midwife, which is usually more practical and distinctive to the delivery center. Certified midwives are nurses with additional training in midwifery and mostly work in hospitals, not in childbirth centers or in home births.

Another group, known as a certified professional midwife, has no nursing training, but has been trained and accredited by the same national institutions that accredit nursing midwives. These midwives specialize in outpatient births and newborn care. Thirty-seven states, including Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, allow professional midwives, but not Massachusetts.

A false proposal in Parliament would create a formal process for the authorization and regulation of certified professional midwives. It would allow them to administer life-saving medications, such as bleeding-stopping medications, and would include these midwives as MassHealth. [Medicaid] suppliers.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

Tiffany Vassell, with her daughter Amelia, at home for 10 years. The labor and delivery nurse is registered and women, and especially women of color, are often given priority during pregnancy and childbirth.
Suzanne Kreiter / Globe Staff

“As a black nurse, I’ve seen a lot of things that I doubt, such as why this person has taken pain medication and not this person?” said Tiffany Vassell, a registered labor and maternity nurse in Mattapan who works at a hospital and is expecting a second child next month.

After a tragic experience of giving birth to her first child in a hospital, where she said she needed more time to give birth naturally to her daughter, she is planning a home birth with a midwife to speed up the process without drugs.

“It’s so important to give people these options and standards because home births are going to happen,” she said.

State and state data show that home births rose in the first year of the pandemic, growing by 47 percent from 2019 to 2020. At the national level, this figure rose by 36 percent among black women.

“Black women are returning to home birth because they see themselves in control of their bodies and babies,” Vassell said. “You can see how many black women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth. Why can’t we fix this?”

The last two reports, including a panel of experts mandated by state lawmakers, concluded that expanding access to midwifery services and other maternal health services could reduce maternal deaths among people of color, as well as reduce health costs.

Susan Hernandez, a certified nurse midwife who works at a Chelsea community health center, served on that state panel. Non-nurse advocates support the proposal to pave the way for licensing because it will ensure that patients are receiving quality care.

“They’ve met the national standard for credentials, but Massachusetts doesn’t have licenses and regulates them, so you’ll know that your professional midwife meets the national standard,” Hernandez said.

“As it stands now, anyone can hang a tile and say she’s a midwife.”

Another proposal that killed state lawmakers would require midwives to require doctors to receive the same insurance payment for the same services.

Right now, Hernandez said, about 15 percent less is returned to them. Childbirth centers typically have midwives, which means they are not as economically competitive as maternity care hospitals, and they lose the ability to provide more services.

“I’m not 85 percent responsible for the mother’s and baby’s results, and … they don’t give me an 85 percent discount on equipment and rent,” Hernandez said.

State Sen. Becca Rausch, a proponent of the bill that would create a Democrat and licensed professional midwife in Needham, said it was unclear why lawmakers sent her proposal and others to further expand her mother’s health care services to effectively kill her. Many bills, including his own, have received reports in favor of legislative committees in previous years before his death.

“It’s a meaningful and real solution that largely has a few downsides,” he said.

Following a rally to save North Shore Birth Center in Beverly on Monday, state Sen. Joan Lovely, a Democrat of Beverly, said she and several colleagues plan to meet with Beth Israel Lahey Health Administrators on Friday to suggest the company close the center permanently and replace it. close while you try to improve temporary staff.

“Smart people can sit in a room and guess what,” Lovely said. “Right now it seems like another attack on women’s rights to make their medical decisions.”

You can contact Kay Lazar at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.

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