State Senator Laura FineSPRINGFIELD – Birth centers across Illinois would have a path to permanent licensure, increasing access to quality, affordable health care for pregnant women, under a measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) that passed the Senate Saturday.

“Pregnant women should not be limited in their choice of birthing style due to an inadequate number of freestanding birth center licenses in Illinois,” Senator Fine said. “Improving accessibility to birth centers will help bridge health care disparities across the state.”

Senator Fine’s legislation would create the Birth Center Licensing Act, lifting the current cap on the number of freestanding birth center licenses, so more women, especially those in marginalized communities, have access to the birthing style they prefer. Freestanding birth centers would still be regulated under the Alternative Health Care Delivery Act, and licenses would have to be renewed every year.

Freestanding birth centers are a lower-cost option for expectant mothers seeking a more homelike approach to childbirth who do not want a hospital setting. There are currently just two freestanding birth centers in Illinois that provide this style of care.

“Establishing a permanent licensure pathway for freestanding birth centers is essential to supporting women who rely on their services throughout pregnancy,” Senator Fine said. “Giving women ample opportunity to seek a certified nurse midwife will give them autonomy over their health care and the chance to access quality services at a lower cost.”

House Bill 3995 passed the Senate with a vote of 59-0.