For black mothers, birth centers, once a refuge, become a battlefield

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Research is limited, but free-standing birth centers, which only accept low-risk patients, are associated with lower rates of preterm birth, higher birth weights, lower rates of cesarean sections , increased breastfeeding rates, and approximately $2,000 in Medicaid savings per patient. compared to traditional care, according to a multi-year study conducted by the federal government.

In the United States, which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world, receptivity to birth centers varies. Some states, including Minnesota and Florida, have adopted these facilities provided they meet national standards and the Commission on Accreditation of Birth Centers recognizes them. Texas has at least 80 independent birth centers, run primarily by licensed midwives.

But in other states, including Mississippi and Kentucky, birthing centers face a similar battle to Alabama. Georgia officials recently withheld approval for a birthing center in Augusta, despite widespread public support, because local hospitals refused to sign patient transfer agreements.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Public Health declined to comment on the Oasis closure or the state's new regulations on birthing centers, citing ongoing litigation.

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