Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

May 25, 2023

Birthing center expansion eyed as use for state funding

Photo | Courtesy of Harrington Memorial A mother holds her newborn baby at Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge.

There's only one birth center operating in Massachusetts, but an infusion of state funding could lead to more facilities, which are designed to give pregnant people more autonomy as they choose a delivery environment outside of the traditional hospital setting.

The Senate on Wednesday adopted a Sen. Liz Miranda budget amendment allocating $1 million to the Department of Public Health to support the development of nonprofit, freestanding birth centers that use a midwifery care model for low-risk pregnancies.

Funds would be prioritized for centers that serve marginalized communities with high rates of maternal and infant mortality, according to the unanimously adopted amendment (561).

Birth centers could alleviate racial disparities in maternal health, Miranda said. Black women, for example, are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, the Boston Democrat said.

Miranda said opening more birth centers, particularly after closures in Beverly and Cambridge, will promote health equity, reduce health care costs and save lives.

Sen. Cindy Friedman said she looks forward to additional state funding to help women be "safe" during delivery.

Senators also unanimously adopted a Sen. Becca Rausch amendment (509) Wednesday allocating $350,000 in first-time funding for the Massachusetts Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, which the Needham Democrat said has been volunteer-run with no dedicated staff. The committee published its last full report nearly a decade ago, she said.

Rausch said the new money will allow staff to analyze why people are experiencing negative maternal health outcomes and dying in a starkly, racially disparate way.

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


Order a PDF