Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The number of families choosing to have their babies outside of the hospital has grown in recent years, but midwives in South Carolina are worried a proposed bill would hurt their ability to work.
Lawmakers have proposed what is called the South Carolina Lay Midwife Act.
Jennifer O'Briant, a licensed midwife apprentice is studying so she can give the experience of an out-of-hospital birth to families.
Now with the proposal of the South Carolina Lay Midwife Act, she and others are concerned about the future of their passion and profession.
"It would introduce a system that would be so burdensome, by way of us being regulated by our competitors basically, that it will ultimately force midwives out of work," said O'Briant.
The bill defines midwives, who are not also registered nurses, as someone with little formal training.
They would be licensed by the state and the measure creates a committee to be part of the licensing process.
It also requires midwives to practice under the supervision of an obstetrician; a group that O'Briant says competes with midwives for patients.
She created an online petition Sunday that has already drawn more than 2,500 signatures of people who oppose the bill.
Representative Kris Crawford, a physician and the bill's sponsor acknowledges that it needs more work and is receiving input.
"For sure we want to let people have babies at home if they want to, all long as we're ensuring that the care provided, that is held out to be care, in South Carolina complies with the standard," said Crawford.
He says the legislation is designed to put midwives on the same page as others in the healthcare industry.
"All the other health professions are regulated over at LLR that has the mechanism and the framework to do it. This treats, puts the midwives in the same position as the acupuncturists, as the anesthesia assistants, as physicians assistants. This is the structure that health providers use in South Carolina to make sure what we're doing is safe, that there's a reporting mechanism that our standards of care are met and followed," said Crawford.
Still O'Briant and others worry the bill will take away choices.
"I believe that it takes away options, not just for women but for their entire families," she said.