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Legislative Alert March 2015

Women's History Month

March 2015

Learning from our past. Honoring our heritage. Moving forward.


Lessons learned from our history

The lessons learned from our past political activities have taught us much about moving forward during difficult times. During the passage of AABC's Medicaid Facility Service Payment legislation and the inclusion of all licensed midwife providers in birth centers, we learned quickly that inviting our elected U.S. Senators and Representatives brought our legislation to the forefront in major Congressional committees. In fact all of our lead sponsors and cosponsors had visited a birth center. Also, many sent staff. We can do it again!


Honoring Our Heritage: The early midwives 

Throughout history there were older Native American women who were healers, using their knowledge of herbs to cure illnesses and serving as midwives at births.

Among the early European settlers, women served as midwives. One of the first is Bridget Lee Fuller, who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 and practiced for more than 40 years, until her death in 1664. 

By the 1900's male physicians replaced female midwives. In the European societies, it was the norm to have male midwives (physicians) for lying-in.

However, this did not stop Mary Breckinridge in her plan to provide health and midwifery care to rural populations in Kentucky. The Frontier Nursing Service continued to grow. Registered nurses were sent to Great Britain for their midwifery education and returned to work at FNS until education programs could be started in the US. 

What we learned from these midwives was that they did not let religious, political or a male dominated medical society stop them for serving as midwives. 


Moving Forward: Taking a few simple steps to reach out to elected officials

  1. Don't know who your Senators or Representatives are? Just go to Open Congress and enter your zip code. 
  2. Once you know who they are, locate their closest District Office by googling their name. Example: Congressman Steny Hoyer. There are several links to District offices. 
  3. Call the office closest to your birth center.  
    Example: "Hello, I am Christine Haas and I work at the freestanding birth center in Pittsburgh. We would like to invite the Congressman and his staff to visit us and learn about the services we offer pregnant women. Who should I talk with? (Get the name, title, telephone number and email of the person with whom you should communicate.) 
  4. AABC staff can assist you in planning for the visit including what handouts you may want to use. 
  5. Please notify AABC when the visit is scheduled. It can take some time to schedule visits, particularly for Senators who travel the entire state.

 "I believe we will have better government when men and women discuss public issues together and make decisions on the basis of their differing areas of concern for the welfare of their families and their world. Too often the great decisions are originated and given form in bodies made up wholly of men or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women have to offer is shunted aside without expression."  Eleanor Roosevelt



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