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Bill to Criminalize Home-Births and Midwifery: Unlawful and Unwise

December 1, 2022


HB 496 would violate the Health Care Freedom Amendment and felonize natural births in Ohio


Columbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law this week intervened to object to any further advancement of HB 496 in the Ohio General Assembly.

The Bill makes the “unlicensed practice of midwifery” (assisting parents with home births), a felony, and creates unattainable licensing standards that will dramatically reduce the supply of and increase the costs of the few Ohio midwives that will remain.

The 1851 Center’s December 1, 2022 Testimony to the Ohio House’s Committee on Families, Aging, and Human Services explains as follows:

  • Contrary to the assertions of the Bill’s sponsors, midwifery and home births are both currently lawful in Ohio, but HB 496 would felonize midwifery, over-criminalizing a practice older than government itself.
  • Criminalizing midwives from assisting with Ohioans’ births violates the Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment’s prohibition against new enactments that prevent or penalize the sale of health care.
  • The few midwives who are able to meet the rigid 137 pages of licensing requirements of HB 496 would be subject to ongoing regulation by the Ohio Board of Nursing, which has expressly stated that “the practice of midwifery by persons other than nurses should be prohibited.”

“This Bill removes a valuable and affordable option for Ohio parents who are often motivated by legitimate religious or spiritual concerns to bring their child into the world without the extensive testing, masking, vaccination, drugging, commotion, and surgical procedures all-too-common at modern hospital births,” explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson.  “It also immediately converts experienced midwives who have presided over thousands of safe births into felons, even when informed parents seek their assistance and they cause no harm.”

“Criminalizing the manner in which 99 percent of humans to have ever walked the earth were born — through the advice or assistance of a qualified individual not necessarily pre-approved by government — is the equivalent of criminalizing breathing, eating, procreating, farming, or gardening.”

Read the 1851 Center’s Testimony here.

View Thompson’s testimony here.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, regulation, taxation, and searches and seizures.