To the members of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services,
We are submitting testimony on behalf of The Womxn Project. The Womxn Project is a non-profit organization in Rhode Island focused on building a strong, feminist, community-based movement to further human rights of Rhode Islanders by using art and activism to advance education and social change. We have a support based of 3,000 plus Rhode Islanders that are actively engaged in working to protect reproductive freedom in Rhode Island.
We offer testimony in support of House Bill 5609/Senate Bill 678 introduced by Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Senator Ana Quevada that would require insurance and medicaid to cover doula services. We are supporting this bill because of a range of personal, practical and cultural reasons. As individuals any woman deserves a safe and supported birthing experience. Doula support reduces premature births and newborn illness while increasing breast feeding success. Statistically doulas lead to 23% fewer c-sections, 9% drop in use of pain medication, 31% less use of Pitocin, which is the main medication used to induce labor, and in general there is proven to be 40 minutes shorter labors. These statistics reduce the spending by eliminating unnecessary procedures and drug prices while avoiding complications that can occur before, during and after birth. And finally, doulas increase black maternal health by providing quality and consistent care in labor and delivery.
Personally, many of our organizers have use doulas for a range of reasons. Says co-director Jocelyn Foye of her experience with a doula,
“My husband wanted to hire a doula because our parents lived so far away and he wanted the support since he was uncertain of his ability to focus last minute. Additionally, my delivery was in a large hospital system and we feared getting “lost” in the hospital’s system. My doula was a great help and gave us a lot of support, mentally and physically, especially with the complications that came with my delivery.”
Studies have shown that when a Doula provides support before, during and after pregnancy, the risk for lower birth weights, cesarean births and death decreases substantially. Doulas as a practice, are encouraged to speak up regarding any racial disparities between clients and medical professionals are witnessed. (https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/f36f23_7d936f97617a4e34aaddd8a052ac1de6.pdf)
These comments and statistics are a small reason of why The Womxn Project urges the committee to bring this bill to the floor for a vote. The womxn of Rhode Island need to see greater support from their General Assembly and this is one more step in that direct.