DeKalb County prosecutors have accused a 55-year-old St. Joe woman of helping deliver babies without a midwife’s license.
Barbara S. Parker told an investigator that she assisted in 48 deliveries in 2012 and that she has averaged 60 to 70 deliveries a year over the past five years, according to court papers.
Parker faces three felony counts of practicing midwifery without a license. The charges stem from three deliveries she performed in early August.
We know the Parkers quite well. In fact I stopped over at their house on Friday to see about renting their boar to breed our lady pig but no one was home. Turns out the reason no one was home was that Barb had been arrested. As sometimes happens there are difficult deliveries and in two especially difficult cases last year babies died in childbirth. Of course that is not unique or even particularly more common with home births. The U.S. has a less than stellar rate of infant mortality, ranking 34th in the world between Lithuania and Belarus and well below Cuba, with an infant mortality rate of 6.81 out of every 1000 live births. Something on the order of 99% of those births happen in hospitals oddly enough. The Amish in our area use midwives for their normal births and speak highly of Barb. Childbirth is about as natural as breathing, eating and sleeping but it does and always has carried risks. What is different in this case is that when a professional with the blessing of the state attends a birth where a child dies, it is just a statistic. When a non-professional without the blessing of the state attends a birth and a child dies it is time for the state to spring to action!
We have had all eight of our children in hospitals with the last two births attended by a midwife. If we were having more children we would probably still choose to go to a hospital to deliver so I obviously think that if someone wants to go to a hospital that is certainly fine. It is also fine if a mother and father choose to have their child at home after making an informed decision. Many home birth advocates take the accurate position that delivering a baby is a natural event, not a disease. I liked this quote from the NY Times article linked below:
"Midwifery is an autonomous profession," Ms. Ayres said. "It's an art and a science that predates the medical model of care. Midwifery sees birth as normal and basically safe.
"It's made safer by reliance on the woman's power," she continued. "The medical model assumes the woman is passive and her body needs to be acted upon. Every birth is presented as a potential disaster from which every woman needs to be protected and potentially rescued."
Our culture treats pregnancy as a medical condition and classify maternity leave as disability. The idea of a woman of all people doing anything more than staying in a hospital bed, pumped full drugs and waiting to be told to push is preposterous! It reminded me of a Monty Python skit about the delivery room...
Woman in Labor: What do I do?
Woman in Labor: What do I do?
Doctor: Nothing dear, you're not qualified!
It is funny but not. Of all the people in the delivery room, only the father and the baby have less input than the mother who is delivering. Don't get me wrong, most labor & delivery nurses are great but they operate in a pretty controlled system that is governed by hospital policy, insurance companies and lawyers. Like so many other parts of our lives we have subcontracted our most basic functions to professionals.
Midwives in our area deliver a lot of Amish babies at home. The Amish will deliver at home whether they have permission or not and whether they have a competent midwife or not. Barb's arrest is not unique. Just a quick google search yields the names Jennifer Louisa Williams, Irena Keeslar and Mary Helen Ayres. with stories like:
Arrested Midwife Says She Won’t Deliver Babies in Indiana Anymore
Bloomington midwife arrested for practicing without a license
That is just in Indiana and just a quick search. I am not sure if Indiana is unique in this crusade against "unlicensed midwifery" but certainly there are those who seem bent on stamping out this dangerous criminal element in our midst (from the above story Arrested Midwife says...)
Mike Rinebold, director of government relations for the Indiana State Medical Association, is hoping that will change.
“We are thankful there is a prosecutor in LaGrange County who is willing to enforce the laws,” Rinebold said.
For the uninitiated, "director of government relations" is a fancy title for what we commonly call "lobbyist". When you start to take back autonomy over things that the government and industry groups have decided you can't be trusted with, you better watch out! According to Mary Ann Griffin of the Indiana Midwives Association, midwives have drawn the ire of the Indiana medical lobby who are blocking a law pending for 17 years to legalize certified professional midwives (same story):
“We are being stopped by the Indiana State Medical Association, which has a powerful lobby. I’ve met with them many times. They have told us that we have been their number one priority. This little tiny group of midwives. There are about only about 15 CPMs in Indiana. It’s a tiny group. We serve 1,000 families a year who want to have a homebirth.”
Glad to see the lobbyists at the Indiana State Medical Association are on the job keeping Amish women safe from midwives!
This is all part of a disturbing pattern and it is all related. Drinking unadulterated milk from a cow. Eating food that hasn't been approved by our government (the same government that says Twinkies are safe). Giving birth to a child outside of a hospital. Teaching your children yourself in your home rather than shipping them off to an institutional school. These are all basic liberties that are under constant assault by overzealous regulators egged on by the lobbyists for international food conglomerates. The general attitude is that people are too dumb to be left to their own devices. Like so many actions by big institutions it has an unintended (or perhaps intended) consequence. The more the state and its enablers coddle the population, the less independent and capable we become. Oddly enough when you don't expect anything from people, you don't get anything from them. Women can't deliver outside of a hospital, how will they know what to do! Moms aren't qualified to raise and educate their own children, mothers need to get jobs in a cubicle shuffling papers while the professionals in daycare and public schools raise their children. People can't make choices in what to eat even if they want to without facing the ire of the militarized food police. Even in the church we don't trust people so we encourage the Body of Christ to "invite people to church" so they can be ministered to by professionals and send money to missions organizations where the professionals can reach the lost.
As long as people are cowed and imprisoned by the state for carrying out the most basic functions in life, our cherished slogan "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" will continue to be at best an empty saying and at worst an outright lie.