Certified Midwives Will Soon Be Recognized in Illinois

Last week, Gov J.B. Pritzker signed legislation taking steps to recognize midwifery as a licensed profession.

J.B. Pritzker stands at podium in front of Obama Presidential Center.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new law allowing midwives without a nursing degree to be legally recognized by the state. cott Olson/Getty Images

Government efforts to exert control over the bodies of people with uteruses won’t stop with abortion bans. The quest for fetal “personhood” will compromise the autonomy of people giving birth, even in decisions like where and when to deliver. But while some states move closer to this reproductive tyranny, Illinois—already considered an abortion haven— continues to move in the opposite direction.

Last week, Illinois Gov J.B. Pritzker signed a new law recognizing midwifery as a licensed profession, a move that will allow pregnant people to legally give birth outside of hospitals with the help of trained professionals.

According to the Chicago Sun Times:

The legislation Pritzker signed into law Tuesday allows for midwives without a nursing degree to go through a newly created licensing process and be legally recognized by the state to provide care before, during and after delivery.

The new law also creates standards for that qualification and sets education and training criteria for anyone seeking to be licensed as a certified professional in the field.

Each year between 2008 and 2017, an average of 75 Illinois women died while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy, according to a recent study from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Black women were three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related condition as white women.

The new law make Illinois the 37th state to legally recognize certified practicing midwives. Meanwhile, research shows that for low-risk pregnant people, certified midwives provide care that is a safe, supportive, and cost-saving alternative to giving birth in a hospital.

For Indigenous people, who have the second highest infant mortality rate in the country, midwifery is a reclaiming of traditional health care from colonization and assimilation. And for queer families, midwives and doulas can sometimes provide a safe space free of the discrimination often found in hospitals (especially religiously owned hospitals).

And with the Black maternal health crisis showing no signs of abating, it’s past time to embrace solutions that are safe, affordable, and bold. Now do the South next.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.