Trenton – Legislation which would require hospitals to permit at least one individual to accompany a woman throughout her labor passed the Senate today. The bill is sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Brian Stack.
“We must ensure that women enduring the emotional and physical strains of labor have the support they need during one of the most important moments in their lives. COVID-19 has forced all of our healthcare facilities to take the necessary precautions to limit the risk of exposure to the virus. Restricting and limiting the number of visitors to a hospital during this crisis is the responsible approach, but we cannot deny the right of a parent to witness the birth of a child or for someone in labor to have the reassurance of someone they know to be with them,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “The New Jersey Department of Health views one support person as essential to patient care throughout labor. This legislation would ensure women have the support they need during such a meaningful and physically exhausting moment in their lives.”
The bill, S-2394, would require the Commissioner of Health to adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the provisions of the bill, including rules and regulations as to the restrictions a hospital may place on individuals accompanying pregnant women during the period of labor and delivery.
“Childbirth is the most cherished moment in the lives of parents. In a time where we must take extra precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, we must also preserve the rights of a mother and her birthing experience and the right of any parents to witness the birth of their child,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson).
In response to the public health emergency, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities have placed limits on visitation practices to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and conserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, many people must still utilize hospital-based health care services for reasons other than COVID-19 during these times, and in some instances, the presence of another individual may be merited for the patient’s care and well-being. One such instance is during childbirth.
The Department of Health issued guidance on the topic and considers one support person to be essential to patient care throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. Their guidance requires hospitals to allow one designated support person to be with the expectant mother during these times.
The bill passed the Senate with a unanimous vote of 40-0.