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AB 1308, authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, was heard by the Senate Business & Professions Committee in Sacramento last Monday, July 1st. We had over 250 midwifery supporters come to the Capitol to attend this hearing. The committee room was standing room only with a large crowd spilling into the hallway outside.
Before the hearing, this bill contained a provision that, if passed, would restate the unattainable physician supervision requirement for licensed midwives, and require revised regulations about supervision. During the hearing, this problematic provision was removed from the bill and AB 1308 was voted unanimously (10 ayes - 0 noes) out of the committee!
Although language to remove the existing physician supervision requirement from the Licensed Midwifery Practice Act was not yet added to the bill, I spoke to the senators about the impossibility of meeting this requirement. Adeola Adeseun, president of California Families for Access to Midwives (CFAM) spoke about the barrier to midwifery care that physician supervision imposes for women on Medi-Cal. After a thorough discussion of the problem, Senator Ed Hernandez asked why Assemblywoman Bonilla didn't just remove physician supervision immediately. The midwifery supporters both inside and outside the room roared with approval at his suggestion. The majority of the senators in the room agreed that this problem must be fixed. Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla then committed to the committee that she would amend AB1308 to remove physician supervision from existing law.
This huge victory in our 20 year long fight for independence was then celebrated at the CFAM rally where Susan Bonilla again promised to amend the bill to remove physician supervision from current law. After the rally the large group of attendees visited with their senators to ask them to vote yes on AB 1308.
The bill will be heard next in Senate Appropriations and then on the Senate floor. If it passes through both, it will go to the governor to be signed into law.
CAM is working closely with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla to make amendments to the bill that we can support while also addressing ACOG's concern for limiting liability for physicians who consult with or receive transfers from licensed midwives. We have excellent legal council working with us and will have draft language ready before the bill goes to Senate Appropriations.
What we need from you is to continue meeting with your senators and asking every midwifery supporter you know to call, write or visit their senator. The only way this bill will pass is if all 40 California state senators know how important it is to California families.