Katie Chubb and Augusta Birth Center (ABC) this week filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) regulations for freestanding birth centers. These regulations require any new childbirth services to seek the cooperation of their direct competitors in order to secure a license to operate.
Despite receiving 150 letters in support of the birth center from Georgia mothers, healthcare providers, and community leaders, the Department of Community Health denied Katie’s application for CON approval. It acknowledged that she had successfully proved her services would provide a necessary low-cost, high-quality alternative for expectant mothers, but it said she failed to secure a transfer agreement with a local hospital. ABC had arranged transfer agreements from an ambulance company and a licensed physician with hospital admitting privileges but was unable to secure agreements directly with hospitals, who would be ABC’s direct competitors.
“Georgia’s CON program requires birth centers to obtain the approval of their direct competitors before being able to offer desperately needed services,” said Anastasia Boden, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “That’s an unconstitutional restriction on both Ms. Chubb’s right to provide critical childbirth care and the right of Georgia mothers to access those services. Mothers, not the state, should be able to choose the safe and comfortable circumstances under which they give birth.”
The case is Katie Chubb and Augusta Birth Center, Inc. v. Boyd, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.