CHICAGO – South Side women will have access to more birthing options under new laws backed by state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, to help reduce maternal mortality disparities.
“The risk of dying from a pregnancy complication should not depend on where one lives or the color of their skin,” Buckner said. “Expecting mothers on the South Side deserve access to the same quality maternity care that is available in other parts of Chicago and Illinois.”
Buckner backed two laws to increase the number of birth centers in Illinois to help reduce maternal mortality disparities. A birth center is a non-hospital health care facility that provides childbirth services, prenatal care and community education to expectant mothers. Under House Bill 738, the number of birth centers allowed under the state’s birth center demonstration program will increase from 10 to 17, with at least one of the additional centers to be located on the South Side and the potential for up to two more to be located on the South Side. Under House Bill 3995, the Birth Center Licensing Act, the state’s birth centers will have a permanent pathway toward licensure outside of the demonstration program by obtaining a certificate of need from state regulators proving that their services are needed in a given area in order to help increase health care access.
According to the Chicago Reporter, the need for safer birthing options increased as the number of hospitals offering maternity care on the South Side dropped by more than half between 2019 and 2020. In Illinois, the maternal mortality gap between Black women and white women is higher than the national average, with Black women six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions.
“Birth centers are an affordable and accessible way for pregnant women to access maternity care, and I’m proud that women on the South Side will have more opportunities for maternity care through new birth centers,” Buckner said. “Increasing the number of birth centers and maternity care options on the South Side will help keep pregnant mothers healthy and reduce disparities in maternal mortality.”