Dear Home Birth and Midwifery Supporters
Summer is well underway as we continue working toward CPM licensure in Illinois through passage of the Home Birth Safety Act. This letter will update you on the current status of the bill as well as tell you what you can do to help us push the bill the rest of the way through our state legislature so it can finally become law.
First and foremost, to all of you who called your legislators and went to Springfield this year and also those who participated in the Walk for Midwives and other fundraising efforts this spring, Thank You! We are now in the best position we’ve ever been. Not only has the Home Birth Safety Act passed a House committee for the first time in 30 years of trying, but our Coalition has earned a new level of respect in Springfield. What legislators once saw as a little group of mothers and others for midwives has evolved into an active and dynamic entity that is turning the tide against one of the state’s most powerful lobbies – the State Medical Society. This is largely due to your participation in this effort. Again, thank you.
To remind you of recent changes, the Home Birth Safety Act which has been HB 226 since January of 2009, is now SB 3712. This change occurred in April 2010 when the language from HB226 was amended to an existing bill that was no longer needed. That bill still carries its original name, Veterinary Records, but the language has been gutted and replaced with ours. For anyone wishing to look the bill up, go to www.ilga.gov and look up SB3712. Then click on full text, then click on House Amendment 001.
Here is the bill’s current status. SB 3712 passed out of the House Health Disparities Committee on
May 6, 2010. The next stop is the House chamber for a full floor vote. As of right now, if we can count upon our yes votes to stay yeses, we have 36 of the needed 60 votes to pass the House. We also have a number of “Likely Yeses” If they vote with us, that leaves about 10 more YES votes needed.
You may notice the numbers have changed a bit since our last writing. This is because of the Medical Society’s strong lobbying after our bill passed in committee, as well as because of the sad loss of one Representative, Eddie Washington, who passed away unexpectedly last month.
We have from now until the last few days of the 96th General Assembly – the first few days of January – before the next General Assembly is sworn in, to earn a total of 60 votes and pass SB 3712. If the bill passes the House, it will go to the Senate for concurrence (since the original bill already passed the Senate). But to get there, we need your help.
Here’s how you can work with the Coalition to help make the dream of licensed home birth Certified Professional Midwives in Illinois, a reality:
• FIRST CONTACT AND WORK WITH YOUR OWN STATE REPRESENTATIVE AND HELP OTHERS CONTACT THEIRS.
o Check the list at the end of this email to find out if your rep is listed as a YES vote.
(go to www.ilga.gov then click on legislator lookup to find out who your rep).
o If your rep is listed as a YES vote, please contact their office by phone and let them know you wanted to verify that they will be supporting the Home Birth Safety Act when it comes up for a vote sometime during veto session, and of course thank them for that yes vote. If you hear anything other than yes, ask if you might have an appointment to come talk to them about it. Let us know what they say. If you get an appointment we may be able to come to that appointment with you or coach you over the phone if needed. Contact us by sending email to Jamie at Charis490@gmail.com.
o If your representative is not listed as a YES, please contact their office and ask for an appointment to come speak to them about SB 3712 – the Home Birth Safety Act. Contact us at Jamie’s address above and hopefully we can come with you or send someone knowledgeable.
o IF YOU HEAR FROM YOUR REPRESENTATIVE THAT THEY HAVE JUST HEARD THAT A NEW STUDY SHOWS THAT HOMEBIRTH IS NOT SAFE, PLEASE MENTION THAT THIS STUDY HAS COME UNDER FIRE FOR BEING EXTREMELY FLAWED AND POLITICALLY MOTIVATED, THEN GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINK TO PRINT AND BRING WITH YOU OR SEND TO YOUR REP. http://www.thebigpushformidwives.org/_ccLib/downloads/7-7-2010_PushNews_RELEASE_OB-GYN_Journal_Fast_Tracks_Publicity_on_Deeply_Flawed_Study.pdf
o If you are just not able to make a visit, please send your legislator a letter (email Jiandra@aol.com for a sample letter) Then follow up with a phone call a week later asking the secretary if your rep received the letter and can you count on their yes vote when the bill comes up? If you hear the bill is dead, please don’t believe it – remember we’ve already proved that wrong this year. Let them know you realize it’s late but “IF”
the bill comes up how will they vote? Let them know you’d like them to make a public show of support for this piece of legislation that will improve the health and safety of home born babies.
o BECOME A MENTOR. If you are someone who has visited your rep before and are comfortable going along to help someone else who has never visited their rep before, please consider becoming a legislative visit mentor. With your coaching, someone who might not otherwise have gone, might bring in the final needed vote!
o Finally, we strongly encourage you to find out THIS WEEK if your rep is running for re-election. If you are comfortable supporting them, ask their secretary to put you in touch with their campaign volunteer office. If you feel more comfortable supporting another candidate of the same or opposite party, do that instead, but please do consider volunteering. Even two simple hours of stuffing envelopes or checking signatures will go a LONG way toward supporting the Home Birth Safety Act. Working campaigns is one of the keys to getting support. We’ve seen proof of this in other states that have successfully passed midwifery legislation. If you do not have a local campaign you can support, let us know. We can direct you toward other possibilities.
o If you do plan to volunteer, let us know with email to Jiandra@aol.com so we can send you list of hints and suggestions that will optimize your presence.
• SECOND, HELP US REACH THE MORE THAN 50 REPS WHO ARE COMPLETE UNKNOWNS IN TERMS OF THEIR VOTE FOR THIS BILL.
o Please forward this email around to everyone you know who believes that women who have a home birth should have nationally certified professional midwives available to attend their birth legally, as opposed to underground, in the state of Illinois. Send to people outside of your local community – acquaintances across the state, your aunts and cousins, old schoolmates, anyone. We must reach as many state legislators as possible.
o Encourage anyone you reach to visit their legislators also. If they are not comfortable doing so, encourage them to download the attached letter, print, sign and send to their legislator. You can make this easy for them by looking up their legislator’s local address for them.
o Watch for our messages on Facebook, Meetup.com and various blogs. Watch also for a message through change.org. Please pass these messages along using your social media connections. This will increase the number of constituents, and therefore legislators, that we reach. We are looking for a conservative website similar to change.org to pass our message along. If anyone knows of a site, please let us know by contacting Rachel at Jiandra@aol.com
o Finally, help us find groups or create groups – anywhere that five or more people can come together – where the Coalition can come speak about the licensure bill and answer questions. We’d like to reach all kinds of groups, alternative and main stream – anyone who might think birthing mothers should have control over where and with whom they have their babies. If you find a group willing to invite us, please contact Rachel at Jiandra@aol.com.
• THIRD AND FINALLY - HELP US RAISE FUNDS
o Right now, thanks to everyone’s generosity, we have our lobbyist paid in full, but we still must spend the summer meeting with state agencies and other professional groups in preparation for our upcoming attempt at a floor vote. To accomplish this, we will be engaging our lobbyist as needed throughout the rest of the year. This means a continued need for funds. Please contact us if you can put together a “Labor Day” picnic in your area or hostess an autumn open house, a pancake breakfast, a garage sale, a film showing (we have a number of film we could lend) or other. Let us know if you can help by contacting Rachel at Jiandra@aol.com.
o If you have crafts or other items you are willing to donate for sale or for raffle, the Illinois Council of Certified Professional Midwives will be attending the regional conference for the Midwives Alliance of North America on the weekend of July 16th – 18th. The Council is part of the Coalition and donates most of its proceeds to lobbying. Please contact Vicki Johnson at Babylady55@aol.com with any donations. You must be able to get them to Evanston or Rockford by July 14th.
o Make a personal donation. If everyone reading this donated $10 today we would have the rest of this year covered. Please donate $10, or more if you can. Ask friends and family members to as well. Let them know it will help make home birth safer for mothers and babies. Go to www.illinoismidwifery.org and click on the paypal link to make a donation or mail a check to CFIM, c/o Vicki Johnson 6092 Torchlite Trail, Loves Park, IL 61111
o Or if you are a midwife, doula, massage therapist or other provider, please consider donating a small portion of each client fee. Check out Community Counts – Better Birth Initiative at http://communitycountsbetterbirth.wordpress.com/2010/01/
We look forward to hearing from you this summer. Watch for more communication from us as the bill continues to move forward. And finally, thank you. We are full of gratitude for your support of the thousands of Illinois mothers, babies, families and midwives that the Home Birth Safety Act will help over the coming years.
Rachel Dolan Wickersham
president, Coalition for Illinois Midwifery
LIST OF STATE REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE CURRENTLY EXPECTED TO BE “YES” VOTES FOR SB 3712, THE HOME BIRTH SAFETY ACT:
Arroyo, Berrios, Beaubein, Black, Boland, Burke, Chapa LaVia, Collins, Coulson, Cultra, Currie, Davis, Davis, Dunkin, Flider, Flowers, Ford, Froehlich, Gabel, Hannig, Hernandez, Howard, Jakobsson, Jefferson, Joyce, Mell, Mendoza, Osterman, Rita, Sommer, Stephens, Tryon, Turner, Walker, Winters, Zalewski
Rachel Dolan Wickersham, CD(DONA), LCCE
president, Coalition for Illinois Midwifery
vice president, Illinois Council of Certified Professional Midwives