This story was published with very few details of what actually happened. It is unfortunate because in our society she has already been convicted of the crime of murder simply because she is a midwife attending births out of the hospital.
Let's look at what we know. She is a woman. She practices midwifery. She is unlicensed. She attended a labor where a baby died. She has been charge with the crime of murder.
What don't we know? How long has she practiced midwifery? Why is she not licensed (wait I know that one...the state of NC doesn't have a licensing procedure even though it has been asked for by members of the state for YEARS) Would this baby have died if the mom had been in the care of an OB? If this baby had died in the care of an OB, would they have been charged with murder? Did she do anything wrong in the management of this labor? Did she misrepresent herself to be something she is not? What are the parents opinions of the care they were given?
I don't know the answers to these questions and I am not here to defend this midwife or to judge her. I understand from someone who knew her that she was well respected in her community.
There are some things I do know. If NC had licensure, this woman would have been investigated by a board who had an understanding of what midwifery is, what is normal and what risk factors where involved. She would have met a standardized set of requirements in order to have become licensed and remained licensed. Instead she is being judged by individuals who have no understanding of birth, nature, medicine or informed choice.
What if every physician who lost a patient, was sued for murder? Ridiculous you say. Well of course it is. If every physician who lost a patient was convicted of murder, we would not be able to train physicians fast enough to keep up with demands of our health care system. Is this because they are neglectful or unskilled? No, it is because unfortunately bad things happen to good people.
I can tell you this, midwives care for their clients, they put their client's needs ahead of their own on a regular basis. They become involved in their lives and share an incredibly intimate event with them. They are invited as guest into their home and often leave as a member of their family. They stay in touch with them sometime for years after their last delivery. They deliver their daughter's children. They often spend 15 to 20 times as much time with their clients than an OB. They miss family events, anniversary dinners and worshipping with their church family if the phone rings and it is a client in labor. Does this sound like someone who would murder a baby? Premeditated, planned, intentional neglect?? I can tell you that midwives grieve when a client calls to report a miscarriage. They are not static individuals who robotically go from client to client. They are dynamic, feeling, personally effected individuals who sacrifice their lives for their clients...and LOVE it and can't imagine doing
Would licensing have prevented this stillbirth? Honestly, probably not. Licensure does not make good doctors, lawyers, midwives, plumber or hairstylist. There are skilled and knowledgeable people all over the world who are practice the craft licensed or not. It is my opinion that licensing is a way for people to give their control over to the government to some how protect them. This is an impossible task. Good practitioners will be good whether big brother is watching or not. Bad practitioners will be bad whether big brother is watching or not. Having licensure give credibility to a profession although I would argue it is a false sense of credibility.
On a personal note, I grieve for this family and their lost. I hurt for the fact that they too will be persecuted because of their decision to work with a midwife. People are cruel and make unkind ignorant comments .
I grieve for this midwife who has given so much of her life to serve others. I can't imagine how frightening it must be for her to face the uncertainty of the future.
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