Saturday, June 24, 2006

Midwifery Legal Update - Wisconsin

Helen Dentice entered a not guilty plea on Friday to practicing medicine without a license.

She is not charged with practicing midwifery without a license? How odd, since she was clearly holding herself out to be a midwife, not a doctor. Although prosecutors may believe her actions meet the legal definition of "practicing medicine", I would think that the "practicing midwifery" charge would be easier to prove. My guess (without looking it up) is that one is a misdemeanor and the other a felony. But why not charge both? Even though Wisconsin recently legalized CPMs, Ms. Dentice, if I understand correctly, is not one.


Anonymous said...

Actually she wasn't charged with being a practicing midife because at the time Wisconsin hadn't passed that law and anyone could call themselves a midwife legally without certification. Second of all..if you read any articles on this case. the mother had 3 previous cesarean sections because of trouble. I'm not saying what the lay midwife did was right but the mother KNEW she was at high risk and simply could not find a certified midwife who would accept her (they all told her no because she was high risk and should be in a hospital for her birth) The family turned to Helen as a last resort because (as stated in articles) it was their "Dream" to have a home birth despite all their previous troubles. They knew the risks involved and her lack of training, perhaps the parents should have been charged for endangerment as well!

Anonymous said...

One of my first thoughts is to not always believe what you read. Not one single midwife told me no because I was a high risk.

The Mommy Blawger said...

To Anonymous #1: Perhaps I should have said "practicing nurse-midwifery without a license." However, I believe that Wisconsin, prior to the new legislation, defined the practice of midwifery as the practice of nurse-midwifery; i.e. the former statutes did not distinguish between the two. So technically my statement was correct.

To Anonymous #2: You are quite correct, I often hear complaints that newspaper articles about such events are inaccurate. I might add that the definition of "high risk" is pretty fuzzy. OBs usually consider any woman over the age of 35 to be high-risk; MWs do not. Some midwives may not consider VBACs/Twins/Breeches to be high-risk per se, but may not choose to do them due to their own level of comfort, experience, or the local legal/political climate. So there is a bit of discrepancy as to what constitues "high risk" and also what conditions would cause a midwife to "risk out" a client from her practice.

Any practicing midwives want to chime in on this one?