Governor JB Pritzker signed a law that will allow midwives to go through a new licensing process to provide care before, during and after childbirth.
The new law requires midwives to have a valid certified professional midwifery certification from the North American Registry of Midwives. It also sets education and training criteria for those seeking to become licensed as certified professional midwives and requires midwives to complete an accredited post-secondary midwifery training program.
Pritzker has said the legislation he enacted this week will hopefully prevent pregnancy-related deaths, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
According to the Illinois affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, certified nurse midwives provide women with primary health care, such as gynecological exams, childbirth, and antenatal and postnatal care.
Representative Mary Flowers, a Democrat from Chicago, said midwifery licensing would be particularly beneficial for black women who, according to a state Department of Health study, are about three times more likely to die of a disease related to pregnancy than white women.
“This is a good first step and I look forward to improving health care for all women, but especially African American women, because we are dying at a higher rate and everything is preventable,” said Flowers.