Sunday, May 25, 2008

Midwifery Legal News - Pennsylvania

The big news this week is that a Pennsylvania appeals court has overturned the State Board of Medicine's decision against Diane Goslin, who was charged with practicing medicine without a license and practicing midwifery without a license. In the decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania made the crucial distinction between Midwifery and Nurse-midwifery:
Thus, section 1 of the 1929 Law regulates, by the issuance of certificates, persons who are not registered nurses with nurse-midwife licenses, but who make a practice of attending women in childbirth gratuitously or for hire.11

Given the different purposes of the two statutes, we conclude that the nurse-midwife charges against Goslin under the 1985 Act did not give Goslin adequate notice to defend against the midwife offenses described in the 1929 Law.12

11 We recognize that statutes in pari materia shall be construed together, if possible, as one statute. Section 1932(b) of the Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. §1932(b). However, the 1985 Act and the 1929 Law do not relate to the same class of persons. Although both relate to midwifery, the 1985 Act relates to the licensing of registered nurses as nurse-midwives and the 1929 Law relates to the granting of certificates to other persons who attend women in childbirth.

12 Moreover, we note that, although the Board concluded that Goslin violated section 1 of the 1929 Law by holding herself out to the public as a midwife, section 1 does not make such conduct unlawful. It is section 5 of the 1929 Law that prohibits a person from “advertising herself as a midwife” without a certificate or a license. 63 P.S. §175.
The ruling apparently means that Ms. Goslin will be able to resume attending births.

Text of the decision (pdf)
Story from the Philadelphia Inquirer
Midwives Alliance of Pennsylvania
PA Pundits has commentary here and here.
Commentary and video from Independent Childbirth.

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