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Ill. birth centers offer choice for pregnant women

Posted by wlpo on July 30, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) – Illinois’ first free-standing birth centers could open later this year or early next, offering women with low-risk pregnancies an alternative many have been seeking for years.

Research shows birth centers provide safe settings for uncomplicated childbirth. And they do it more cheaply than hospitals can – on average, $2,300 vs. $8,900 for facility charges.

It took two decades of lobbying by Illinois midwives before a 2007 law authorized a pilot program for 10 birth centers in the state. A lengthy rule-making process came next with many compromises between hospitals, doctors and midwives. A hearing on rules this week ended with no opposition, meaning birth center operators soon can seek licensing.

Illinois will require all birth centers to be within 30 minutes of a hospital to allow for emergency cesarean sections.

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