Midwife Stephanie Mitchell, who is attempting to open a birth center in Alabama and has sued the state, speaks at the Mothers of Gynecology monument in Montgomery, Ala., this month.
Credit: Anna Claire Vollers/Stateline/TNS

When Katie Chubb announced in 2021 she was planning to open a freestanding birth center in Augusta, Georgia, it seemed like everybody in town was excited about it.

She met with local physicians and nurses who said they would welcome her Augusta Birth Center as a provider of midwifery services for low-risk pregnancies. Hundreds of people signed the interest form on her website. She met with the head of obstetrics at University Hospital (now Piedmont Augusta), located less than a mile from the proposed birth center location, who responded positively, she said.

But when Chubb submitted her 800-page application to the state health department for a so-called Certificate of Need — a requirement to open a licensed birth center in Georgia — she discovered that not everybody in town was enthusiastic about the Augusta Birth Center.

Two local hospitals, including the one she’d met with, […]

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