Thursday, April 29, 2004

Midwifery Legal Update - Pennsylvania

Judith Wilson was arrested last Friday in Pittsburgh, PA on charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of a child, and practicing midwifery without a license. Judy, a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), had been under investigation since the November 2002 death of a footling breach baby who required resuscitation after delivery and died two days later in the hospital.

The baby's parents, Jonathan and Heather Daley, do not blame Ms. Wilson for the death and do not support the prosecution.

And the news goes from bad to worse. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. said Tuesday that he may empanel a grand jury to investigate unlicensed midwives and whether they should be charged. Previous to the current investigation, direct-entry midwifery in Pennsylvania has been considered "legal by judicial interpretation or statutory inference," according to the Midwives Alliance of North America. Pennsylvania regulates nurse-midwives, but makes no provision for non-nurse midwifery, though it is not specifically outlawed by statute.

As an aside, it would be completely legal for a midwife with identical training, experience, and certification as Judith Wilson to practice in Texas and at least fourteen other states. Ms. Wilson is credentialed by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM).

Butler County midwife charged in newborn's death, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Midwife charged in baby's death, Pittsburgh
Grand jury investigation of midwives eyed, Pittsburgh
Friends of Judy provides updates on the case and is organizing an auction to raise money for Judy's legal fund.
Jon & Heather Daley's website with an account of baby Isaac's birth and death.

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