5 Dollars

My life as an at-home momma of 3 amazing kids...it's kind of like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Midwife charged in Edinburgh case

Indiana Midwife Jennifer Williams has been charged with practicing medicine without a license (a felony punishable by prison term of up to eight years and a maximum $10,000 fine) and with the unlicensed practice of midwifery (a lesser felony).

The charges came about due to a homebirth she attended in June where the baby didn't survive. My understanding of the case is that the baby's death was not due to any negligence on Jennifer's part. The parents stand behind her, but the state is prosecuting (or could that be persecuting?) her. The charges are not about what happened with the baby or because of anything Jennifer did or didn't do at the birth, but because the state of Indiana requires midwives to be licensed, but does not provide a way for that to happen. This midwife could go to jail for helping a family have a homebirth.

I'm going to quote Andrea because I think she said it so well, "I have no doubt that this midwife did everything she could do to save the baby, including, if there was time, get it to a hospital. The thing is, sometimes babies die. Even in hospitals. Most of the time, it's no one's fault. But anytime most homebirth midwives in Indiana have a bad outcome, even if the outcome would have been no different in a hospital, they risk their job and her very freedom."

HB 1237 could help to change that. Local midwives and homebirth advocates have been trying for years to get this kind of legislation passed in Indiana. Representative Peggy Welch has re-introduced HB 1237 which has now been refered to the House Public Health Committee. The committee chair is Tim Brown, a MD from Montgomery, Parke and Tippecanoe counties. In the Senate, the committee that needs to hear this bill is chaired by our old friend Senator Pat Miller. She has blocked this legislation any chance she has had and continues to refuse to hear it. Anything that we can do to get this bill passed will help to license and protect midwives like Jennifer who risk their own freedom in order to help families birth at home.

For now, a Legal Defense Fund is being created for the overwhelming lawyer fees that Jennifer will incur. She has already spent $2,400 in legal fees and on top of that she had to post bail today. If anyone wants to help contribute to the defense fund, go to PayPal and then go to the "Send Money" tab and use the email address birthroot1@yahoo.com to submit funds to that account.

I know that lobbying and rallys are in the works and promise to post any important updates I get on this situation.


  • At 5:55 PM, January 16, 2006 , Blogger Anne said...

    ugh. you'd think that people who decide to hire a midwife should sign a waiver. even at a hospital nothing is guaranteed but hell, if you are going to skip going to a hospital for baby delivery, you are taking an obvious chance. So grab some self-responsibility already. I hope Jennifer comes away from this unscathed but can only imagine the lawyers representing the family are rubbing their greasy palms together.

  • At 6:33 PM, January 16, 2006 , Blogger Carissa said...

    The family is standing behind Jennifer.
    It's the STATE that is prosecuting her for practicing w/o a license...but the state also doesn't PROVIDE any way for her to BE licensed.

  • At 8:21 PM, January 17, 2006 , Anonymous K. Farr said...

    Jennifer Williams must be at the courthouse at 8:30a.m. on Friday, January 20 and she has asked that everyone else be there then as well. We are planning a rally to show our support! Spread the word and join the convergence on courthouse!


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