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Ruiz, Pou Bill to Require Providers of Maternity Services to Adopt Permissive Doula Policies Advances

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Nellie Pou that would require birthing centers and hospitals that provide maternity services to adopt policies and procedures authorizing a patient to select a doula to accompany them before, during, and after labor and childbirth.


“Elevating the quality of maternal health care across New Jersey is imperative,” said Majority Leader Ruiz (D-Essex). “Women should know what our rights are and all the services that are available before, during, and after giving birth. Having access to a trained professional who is completely focused on the well-being of the mother and baby is critical. The Administration and Legislature have been keenly focused on improving the maternal health outcomes of all women. We must continue to make investments in our hospitals and the organizations that have proven to elevate those efforts.”


The bill, S-4119, would require that providers of maternity services adopt and maintain policies that support a patient’s ability to choose their own doula and receive support from them. Each provider would be required to provide a written copy of those policies and procedures to each patient receiving maternity services, each provider of maternity services at the facility, and any other person upon the patient’s request.


Under the bill, the policy would have to be made available in the ten most common languages spoken in the state.


“Supporting doulas is part of supporting women and combatting maternal and infant mortality,” said Senator Pou (Bergen/Passaic). “Doulas can help a mother follow their birth plan and avoid unnecessary, potentially dangerous interventions, such as C-Sections for low-risk pregnancies.”


The bill was advanced in a 7-0 vote.