- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama obstetrician-turned legislator said Tuesday that he’s backing off his effort to repeal a state law setting minimum postpartum hospital stay and bloodwork requirements that was inspired by the death of one of his patients.

State Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, received national attention - and considerable backlash - for his effort to repeal “Rose’s Law.” The law is named for Stutts’ patient Rose Church, who died of a heart attack 10 days after giving birth in 1998. Her widower, Gene Church, carrying the couple’s newborn daughter Logan Rose Church and a diaper bag, walked the halls of the Statehouse in 1999 to urge legislators to make a change in postpartum care requirements after his wife’s death.

“I was stunned that he would do this. It was like a punch to the gut,” Gene Church said of learning of Stutts’ effort to repeal the law named for his wife.

Stutts said Tuesday that he was withdrawing the bill after “careful consideration and feedback from my constituents.”

“My sole intention with Senate Bill 289 was to re-center health care decisions between a patient and her doctor by limiting government mandates,” Stutts said in a statement.

“Let me also say that neither the bill nor today’s decision is related to any patient case I have had in my medical career, despite media insinuations to the contrary,” Stutts said.

While Stutts said his repeal effort was not about any former patient, Gene Church said he felt it was personal.

Gene Church said legislators left Rose’s Law alone for 16 years until the man who was at the center of it was elected to the Alabama Legislature.

“I don’t believe his statement. I don’t believe most of his constituents, or most of the people in the country, would believe his statement,” Church said.

Church filed a malpractice lawsuit against Stutts after his wife’s death. The lawsuit was settled under confidential terms, Church said.

Church said his wife was discharged from the hospital 36 hours after giving birth. She returned because of extensive blood loss and was shown to be in congestive heart failure. She was discharged, then later had a heart attack and died in the ambulance that was transporting her to a Birmingham hospital.

“She said, ‘I love you.’ I said, ‘I love you, too.’ She said, ‘I don’t feel good.’ And she went into cardiac arrest. …. We tried to revive her all the way to the hospital, but she was effectively dead by the time we got back,” Church said.

It was later determined that she had a piece of the placenta left in her uterus after birth that caused the excessive blood loss.

Church said he decided to push for the law within days of his wife’s death.

“How does a healthy 36-year-old die of childbirth complications in the United States?” he asked.

Rose’s Law expanded upon a federal law regarding postpartum hospital stays. Federal law prohibits health insurance companies from restricting postpartum hospital stays for new mothers and their infants to fewer than 48 hours after normal vaginal deliveries or 96 hours after a C-section. However, doctors could discharge a patient earlier after consulting with the patients. The Alabama law goes further and requires a doctor to provide a written summary of the advantages and disadvantages of early discharge and to get a woman’s approval in writing for an early discharge.

Rose’s Law also requires particular bloodwork before hospital discharge. Stutts’ bill would also remove a state requirement for women to be notified after a mammogram if they have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, experts do not agree on if additional tests should be done on women with dense breast tissue.

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