We are Still Here!
The world is in the midst of so much upheaval right now, that it feels like we are lucky to be finding our footing. Our good news is that we are still moving forward with our effort to expand access to evidence-based maternity care in all settings. The bad news is that we took a big hit financially when we had to cancel the 2020 Baltimore Birth Festival.
For some background: Maryland Families for Safe Birth (MFSB) began with one main purpose, which was to legalize and create greater access to Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and the evidence based, woman centered, midwifery model of care, particularly in the home birth setting. Although we managed to pass legislation to secure licensure for DEMs in 2015 (in the legislation, CPMs are referenced as Direct Entry Midwives, or DEMs), we did not achieve all that we had hoped. Since then, we have been trying to build positive relationships with other stakeholders, and we have been interacting with Maryland lawmakers in order to demonstrate to them the value of our mission.
We are currently working on a bill, which would allow DEMs to attend Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). The plan is to introduce this bill in the 2021 Legislative Session that begins in January. We have a lobbyist who we have been working with for several years. She is invaluable in drafting the bill for us and guiding us throughout this process. She advises us on where our efforts are likely to be most impactful.
This past spring, there was an increased interest in homebirth as hospitals responded to COVID-19 by enacting new policies surrounding birth and newborn care. Some new policies are changes that can lead to increased negative outcomes (e.g., limiting birth support can result in increased medical interventions). We are optimistic that we will be able to use this situation to emphasize the importance of expanding birthing options.
However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) quickly made statements that hospitals, even during the time of COVID, are still the safest places to give birth. We are expecting pushback against our bill, and statements like these will be used as ammunition against us. We need an army of supporters to make themselves heard by their lawmakers. We will need you, our loyal supporters, to spread the word. As our work on the bill progresses, we will provide specifics on how you can get involved. Our annual Lobby Day, usually held in January near the beginning of the legislative session, will likely look different from previous years due to COVID-19. Stay tuned!
In May of 2019, the Baltimore Birth Festival was an incredible success. Thank you for all your enthusiasm and support! It looked like an annual festival could cover our fundraising needs for an entire year. But it couldn’t happen in spring of 2020 due to COVID-19. In April when we realized we were not going to have the festival in May, we tried to reschedule for the fall but could not find a date that would work.
As mentioned above, we have a lobbyist. For a year in which we will introduce a significant bill, her fees are doubled to around $1250 each month. Now we find ourselves down to only enough funds to cover our expenses for one more month. Thus, we will be hosting an online auction from November 23 to November 29, 2020. We need donations of items or services to auction and we will need folks to place bids. DONATE HERE and please help us spread the word!
We are here to represent you to the best of our ability. As with many volunteer organizations, we are perpetually short-handed. If anyone has any spare time to help us, we would greatly appreciate it. We especially need help with outreach to help grow our organization. As always, feel free to contact us.
MFSB Board of Directors
Kirra, Evie, Camille, and Jennifer