Charleston Birth Place calls for new legislation

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A local birth center is in jeopardy of ending its services. 

This after a state committee deleted a temporary law this week that enables the local center to carry out natural births. 

Charleston Birth Place an accredited birth center provides natural births for women. The center is calling for new legislation.

Bailey Moore chose to have a natural birth at Charleston Birth Place. Her son Dray is now 7 months. 

"It's your body and your choice and I love having the option to where to chose to have my son," Moore said.

Nurse midwifes at Charleston Birth Place have delivered more than 2,000 babies averaging about 40 a month, most are water births.

"I don't feel like I would have had the same experience had we chosen to go the hospital route," Moore said.

Natural births are different from what you'd find in a hospital setting. Women choose not to have an epidural. There's also more time spent with patients and midwives develop close relationships with the families they serve. 

Lesley Rathbun is the owner and a certified nurse midwife. 

"The current birth center laws that they're using are over 30 years old, they definitely need to be updated," Rathbun said. 

She was in Columbia on Tuesday when the Ways and Means Committee deleted a proviso or temporary law that allows on call physicians to provide medical assistance by phone in a case of an emergency.

Without the the proviso, the physicians are required to sign a letter of intent saying they would physically come to a birth place in an emergency.

"Although that sounds like an ideal situation, realistically that makes no sense," Rathbun said.  "There's nothing a physician could do in the birth center setting that the midwives couldn't or shouldn't have already done."

She says physicians aren't willing to sign because they would be forced to come to the birth center. Most argue it's best to meet at Trident Hospital which is less than a mile from the Charleston Birth Place.

Rathbun says it's 'very rare' for an emergency to happen.

"It makes me upset our state legislature and state government doesn't necessarily feel that way," Moore said. "I wish that we could come to an agreement on a bill to where the safety of mother and children are number one."

If the proviso is not restored the owner of the birth place says the state health department could cite them for not being able to comply and they could lose their license and close.

The committee will meet again on Tuesday to discuss this temporary law, they could vote to keep it.

There are two birth center bills waiting for review in South Carolina.

Birth Center Information

Rathbun says their center has saved the healthcare system more than 11 million dollars. Natural births are about one third of the costs of traditional hospital births.

There are five birth centers in the state, three are accredited including Charleston Birth Place through the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers. 

Rathbun says studies have shown if you are low-risk healthy woman, giving birth led by a midwife at an accredited birth center can reduce birth risks. She says it leads to less low weight births, better breastfeeding rates, less pre-term birth and general overall health.

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