Clinic claims ‘competitors’ veto’ amounts to unconstitutional discrimination
A birth center to be staffed by midwives is suing Georgia in federal court for unconstitutionally denying it permission to operate, after three local hospitals expressed opposition to the facility.
At present, there are only three non-hospital birth centers in Georgia, a state with more than 120,000 human births annually, but none are within a 130-mile radius of Augusta, according to the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a national nonprofit public interest law firm that’s representing the center.
Childbirth outcomes are “abysmal” across the state, including in the Augusta area, PLF says. The plaintiffs say that local nurses around Augusta, which sits across the Savannah River from South Carolina, tell stories of a lack of beds and women giving birth in hospital hallways.
Hoping to improve childbirth outcomes, Katie Chubb and others created Augusta Birth Center. Chubb, who is originally from the United Kingdom, where midwifery is a common practice, decided to act after her husband had to drive her 2 1/2 hours to the nearest birth center.
Birth centers are generally small businesses or nonprofits run by certified nurse midwives and overseen by medical doctors.
The legal complaint (pdf) in the case, Chubb v. Noggle, court file 1:22-cv-3289, was filed on Aug. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The plaintiffs are Augusta Birth Center Inc. and Chubb, its executive director and principal shareholder. Chubb is currently in school to become a certified nurse midwife.
The defendants are Caylee Noggle, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health; Karesha Lang, interim executive director of the Office of Health Planning; and Norman Boyd, chairman of the Board of Community Health.