Utah Birth Center Legislature Page
Update! March 6, 2017. We have our license in hand. What a great thing to hold after 10 years of waiting! Thanks for everyone who helped lobby for this change. It's a great day for birth options in Utah!
Update! As of February 2017, SIX birthing centers in Utah have been licensed for the first time! We are so excited for this change in our state after spending so many years striving for it. Hurray for these centers and their clients! We are currently in the process of obtaining our own licensing with the state and look forward to announcing that to you very soon!
Update! Hooray! The Bill 108 passed the Senate and the House! We are currently pursuing our own licensing with the state and look forward to announcing that to you! We are so excited as this has been over a ten year battle. Senator Deidre Henderson sponsored SB 108 to assure that committees that are in a competitive relationship with whom is requesting licensure or rules will not be able to stop them from licensing, as the health facility committee has been able to do for the last 10 years. Fox 13 did an interview with Senator Henderson here.
Because of Senator Henderson's work on this issue, the Health Facilities Committee had an emergency session and voted to approve rules that will allow licensure and safe care of women in birthing centers. We are not done - we are waiting for the 30 day comment period and then we have to start on the birth center construction rule, but we are moving forward!
What is the Current State of Birth Centers in Utah?
Currently there are no licensed public birth centers in Utah. Why you might ask, since there is law that allows licensing of birth centers in Utah.
The reason is multi-faceted and we will try to explain some of it here:
- The Health Department's Facility Committee met on February 24th and voted in a new version of the birth center rule that would allow licensure and safe care of women in a birth center. We are waiting to see if these come into effect - hopefully soon.
- The current Health Department rules require a hospital to sign a transfer agreement which can make them legally liable. None of the hospitals (according to the Utah Hospital Association) are willing to sign this agreement.
- The current Health Department rules require a Physician or a Certified Nurse Midwife to be responsible for and in attendance at each birth center birth. This is in spite of the current legality of many qualified practitioners that have license to attend births in the State of Utah.
- The current Health Department rules require hospital grade building code for a birth center despite the fact that there are no surgeries occurring in the birth center.
- Currently we are operating birth centers in Utah utilizing a "loophole" where a one room birth center does not need to be licensed. By removing these rules, it will make possible licensing for birth centers with 2-5 birth rooms.
- The current Health Department facilities committee has expressed a desire for all birth centers to close.
Birth center owners, midwives and interested families have been working on changing these rules for over 10 years! This is called "Anti Trust" when a business is kept from operating. We fortunately have a Senator, Senator Diedre Henderson, who has been willing to get to the bottom of this mess in order to see justice be served. She has worked hard to make sure that justice is done.
What are we trying to do about it?
We were successful in getting the offending rules put in a "sunset" bill. A "sunset" bill means the legislature will vote at the end of the session (in March, 2016) to take those rules out of the code. While there is a possibility that the will would not pass, or that the birth center rules would be amended out of it, it is extremely likely that it will pass as is.
Senator Henderson sponsored another bill, SB 108 Birthing Center amendments, which will forbid the HFC from rewriting the rulesdoing that. This bill has now passed the Senate, the House Business and Labor Committee recommendation process and is on to the House for a vote.
Senator Henderson also sponsored a bill SB 128 which assures that a committee that refuses to work with a group within the law or is made up of competitors and refusing to use their responsibility within the law, the Department of Health can override their decisions. This bill also passed the Senate, the House Business and Labor Committee recommendation process and is on to the House for a vote.
We have met with the Health Department Facilities Committee, February 24, 2016, and they have passed a rewritten set of rules that appear to be legally just rules. There is now a 30 day comment period and we will have to see if these rules do indeed come into effect.
Next on our agenda will be to write a new Construction Rule for Birthing Centers. This will take architects and a lot of work to make feasible but we are willing to work hard. We cannot license if the current construction rules make it not feasible. We will keep you informed here.
The current rules R432-550-11, paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 of Contracts and Agreements are on the sunset bill so that a birth center does not have to have a hospital sign an agreement in order for the birth center to be licensed. You can see the original here: http://le.utah.gov/interim/2015/pdf/00005884.pdf
And the current rules R432-550-15, paragraph 1, 2 and 5 of Clinical Staff and Personnel are on the sunset bill as well so that licensed midwives in the State of Utah can operate in a licensed birth center. You can see it here: http://le.utah.gov/interim/2015/pdf/00005904.pdf
What can you do to help?
You can assure your right to choose by:
Let Senator Henderson know that you appreciate her support and hard work. email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write on her Facebook wall.
Find out who your State Senator and Representative are. Here is the link to where you can find out the House and Senate districts using a street address and zip code: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp
- Find your Senator's email address here: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html and representative e-mail addresses here:
- Passage of these bills is a monumental victory. The new birthing center rules seem to be on their way.
- Members of the Health Facilities committee (appointed by the Govenor) are: Name Qualification
Vacant Position (f) Nursing Care Facility Representative
DaNece Fickett (d) Rep. of freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities
Recently vacated position ( e) Rep. of Ambulatory Surgical Centers affiliated with a hospital
Steven Sabins (j) Assisted Living Facilities
Dale Andrew Johns (b) Hospital Administrator Representative
Bryan Erickson (f) Nursing Care Facility Representative
Bruce Davis ( c) A hospital trustee
Lou Jean Flint (k) Consumer
Vacant Position (k) Consumer with expertise in geriatric care
Earl Leeman (a) one physician, licensed to practice medicine
Brent Jones (l) one representative from either a home health care provider or a hospice provider
- E-mail Joel Hoffman, Director of Health Facility Licensing, who supports our cause, and let him know that you support new rules that allow licensing of birth centers in Utah. email@example.com