Hospitals no longer would be the only licensed medical facilities where women could give birth in South Dakota under legislation that cleared the state Senate Tuesday.
Senators voted 28-6 for a measure that would allow the state Department of Health to license and regulate birthing centers.
The centers could be used only for low-risk pregnancies. Centers will be required to conduct risk assessments and transfer patients to hospitals as necessary.
The legislation, SB22, now moves to the House of Representatives for a hearing.
Just one senator delivered remarks during the Senate’s short consideration of the major change.
Sen. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, said the birthing centers would provide a safe alternative to hospitals. They will need to be within 30 minutes of routine driving time of a hospital in case of complications.
“Other states have incorporated a similar 30-minute standard in their birth center regulations,” she said.
Voting against were Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg; Sen. Jeff Haverly, R-Rapid City; Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown; Sen. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel; Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford; and Sen. Jim Putnam, R-Armour.