Midwife Arrested in Indiana, Released on $10,000 Bail

When a car pulled up to her house a little after 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 31st, Ireena Keeslar was still in her pajamas.

Ireena and her husband, who keep the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, were just finishing up a late breakfast.

They weren’t expecting any visitors. They certainly weren’t expecting the police.

But Keeslar, who is 49 years old and lives in Howe, Indiana, was put into handcuffs and taken to jail.

She was arrested for practicing midwifery.

Certified professional midwifery, as well as direct-entry midwifery, is illegal in Indiana.

Though certified nurse midwives may practice in a hospital setting, professional midwives, regardless of their training or experience, may not deliver babies at home or in the hospital.

But since LaGrange County, where Keeslar lives, has a large Amish community, demands for homebirth midwifery services are high.

Just over the border in Michigan, where she delivers most of her babies, homebirth midwifery is unregulated, being legal by default.

She couldn’t stop crying on the way to the county jail, Keeslar told me today when I spoke to her on the phone. A diabetic and a mother of five, Keeslar explains that her own mother died this past October and her only brother died last year of cancer, and that being arrested was completely demoralizing.

Keeslar was a nurse and worked in obstetrics before deciding to become a midwife.

She has participated in over 1,700 births, about 400 of which have been babies born at home.

Homebirth midwives in Michiana, the area of northwest Indiana and south central Michigan, charge between $900 and $3,500 per birth, which includes prenatal care.

Nationally, the average hospital birth costs between $5,000 (for an uncomplicated hospital birth) to $20,000 (for a C-section with complications). This does not include the price of prenatal care.

Keeslar’s arrest was not associated with any bad outcome. But she is the second professional midwife to be arrested in the past two months.

Keeslar, who has been working as midwife for about eleven years, is not sure what prompted authorities to target her now. But it is clear that while women in Indiana want to have a choice about where and with whom they deliver their babies, many obstetricians in the state openly oppose midwifery and homebirth.

Indiana Obstetricians Oppose Homebirth
Dr. Kurt Wiese, M.D., an obstetrician in private practice in Valparaiso, says that he’s ambivalent about whether professional midwifery should be legal.

He is willing to work with patients who do not want fetal monitoring or other interventions, Wiese says.

He also points out that women in Indiana can give birth with midwives in the hospital.

Wiese says his concern is bad birth outcomes, not loss of business.

“I’m not worried about losing money to them,” he tells me. “The large majority of people still choose to deliver in the hospital.”

But Wiese gets angry when a homebirth goes wrong.

“From my own personal perspective, the ugliest aspect of all of this is that their train wreck or their disaster shows up at my doorstep and I become responsible for their irresponsibility,” he says.

“At two in the morning that’s what I’m dealing with. They don’t practice by a standard of care that we agree with.”

Dr. Cal Streeter, D.O., who has been practicing medicine for 37 years and backing midwives, disagrees.

“It’s all about the money,” Streeter says. “People who have money in Parkview Hospital in LaGrange County want to do away with our midwives.”

Streeter says Keeslar is a competent, experienced midwife and that homebirth with competent attendants is as safe or safer than hospital birth.

“It’s as safe to have a baby at home as in the hospital. Most of the problems in obstetrics are doctors trying to hurry the process up or slow it down. Most every problem in obstetrics is a lady getting Pitocin to fit the doctor’s schedule, or slowing the process down until he or she gets there.”

While the traditional medical establishment is fighting midwives, Streeter says Indiana women want to have choices.

“Outside the medical community, people in Indiana want midwives. Ladies would prefer midwives over obstetricians. Of course you need an OB as a back up if you have a problem. In case you need surgery.”

Indiana Moms Support Homebirth Midwives
“I think it’s ridiculous that they don’t give midwives the option to be legal,” says Stephanie Precourt, 35, an Indiana mom who had her first three babies, all boys, in the hospital before leaving her OB practice when she was 32 weeks pregnant and delivering a daughter at home.

“The law doesn’t make sense,” Precourt says.

“It’s not illegal for me to be alone and do it unassisted,” Precourt points out, “but to have someone attend my birth who’s not licensed is illegal. Ivy was number 1631. My ‘illegal’ midwife had seen everything and done it all. We just took the risk that if we had a transfer, she couldn’t go with me.”

“It just seems unbelievable to me that in the 21st century people can’t have a baby without somebody telling them how to do it,” says Patty Miller, 50, who has been good friends with Keeslar since they attended 5th grade together at Colon Elementary School in Michigan. “I think she’s providing a valuable service to women, giving them a choice.”

“They think it’s fine to schedule a C-section for convenience—doctors do that all the time—but to want to have a baby in a loving home with your family around, they look at that as the odd way to have a child,” Miller says.

“It’s so backwards.”

Released on $10,000 Bail
Keeslar spent all of Saturday in jail.

There was someone else’s phlegm in the sink in the cell.

She was forced to wear a prisoner’s uniform that was so tight it cut off the circulation in one leg and caused it to swell. She was served food inappropriate for a diabetic (she could not eat it), not given access to her insulin and other medications, and repeatedly ignored when she called out for help.

But just before sunset, Keeslar was released from jail on $10,000 bail.

She returned home to her husband, 5 kids, 2 of her 5 grandkids, 1 dog, 2 cats, 20 sheep, 2 goats, and too many chickens to count. She has homemade pickles stacked in her pantry and a large garden where she grows a lot of her own vegetables.

Friends describe her as a woman with a great sense of humor and a kind heart.

Keeslar says her belief in God is helping her through this ordeal.

A court date for a hearing has been set for this coming Monday, April 9th, 2012.

The Indiana Midwives Association is asking homebirth and midwifery supporters to meet at the LaGrange Courthouse at 105 N Detroit Street at 11 a.m. On April 9th to show their support.

For readers who want to help Keeslar cover legal fees, send checks to:

Ireena Keeslar Legal Fund
7570 East 750 North
Howe, Indiana 46746

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. She is the editor of Toddler and co-author of The Baby Bonding Book for Dads. Her new book, The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Baby Before Their Bottom Line, will be published by Scribner in April 2013. Read a Q & A with Jennifer at the Oregonian’s Oregon News Network.


Categories: pregnancy and childbirth.

140 Responses to Midwife Arrested in Indiana, Released on $10,000 Bail

  • Alexandra
    April 3, 2012

    It seems incredible that Indiana would not allow midwifery in home settings and outrageous that Ireena Kesslar was arrested. The word for midwife in French is sagefemme. Wise woman. My daughter is going to have a baby. I’m glad we do not live in Indiana, and that she has the choice to hire a doctor or a midwife for the birth of her child.

    • Robin
      April 4, 2012

      Maybe the doctors in Indiana don’t want any competition, like as if they need more money. It’s outrageous that this woman was arrested and yet even after Bloomberg exposed the Koch brothers as crooks the GOP wouldn’t do a thing to investigate. They get away with their crimes because they’re rich while this decent and helpful woman gets arrested for practicing midwifery. Unbelievable!

  • Stephanie Precourt
    April 3, 2012

    With all due respect to Dr. Wiese, I imagine that there are far more women turning to homebirth midwives after negative, traumatic OB and hospital birth experiences than the 2am transport calls he receives. AND if it were legal, he wouldn’t have to be on the other end of those calls. Period.

    Or some of us just want to have someone there that will actually go along with our birth wishes and not just say they will at the time it’s brought up in the office, then do the opposite in the hospital, calling for intervention when it wasn’t an emergency, etc. Been there done that. So thankful for my beautiful late midwife Lynda. I wish she could have seen this law in Indiana turn. I wouldn’t change a thing about my homebirth.

    Steph
    Stephanie Precourt recently posted…MichiganMy Profile

    • Sheri
      April 4, 2012

      Wonderfully said. Exactly right. What about the planned hospital births that end up in “train wrecks”? Why does the medical community gloss over all of those?

      • Evelyn
        April 4, 2012

        Amen to that sister. Yes, what about all the “train wrecks” in hospital. Unfortunately they have the ” license” to cause them but often nothing ever comes of it. How about all the mother and babies that have died because of unnecessary interventions in hospital.

        In a home birth transport that is why the hospital is there, that is where the mother needs to be when her midwife and mother make that decision, for the sake of mother and or baby.

      • Marlene Waechter
        April 6, 2012

        Right on, Sheri! At least half my homebirth clients only come to me after a “train wreck” of a hospital birth! We clean up their messes too! Bottom line is that hospitals are there to treat sick people, not healthy people. For complications arising at home, hospital transport is the appropriate course of action.
        Home is not the best place for all births, neither is the hospital! The World Health Organization has said for low TO MODERATE risk pregnancies, birth should take place, with a trained attendant [regardless of title] at the most peripheral level appropriate for that pregnancy. This ensures that the high risk specialists [ob's] are not busied with normal care, but reserved for the high risk women who are more apt to encounter problems, not solvable at the peripheral level. The WHO has also said the optimal C/S rate would be 2-5%. If your C/S rate is below 1%, you are probably not saving lives that could be saved w surgery. if your C/S rate is more than 15%, you are probably causing more problems than curing! (This is a WHO statement, not just my opinion!) Our C/S rate is more than DOUBLE what it should be! Our birth stats are THE WORST of all the developed countries! Our system is clearly broken, lets not follow all the other Lemmings off the cliff. Let’s strive to keep, or regain our freedom to birth where and with whom we choose, & not be licensed into a neat little cubby hole, so that the government gets to choose who we are in bed with!

  • Jennifer
    April 3, 2012

    Just to clarify, certified nurse-midwives *are* able to attend a homebirth legally in Indiana. So it’s not all homebirth that’s illegal; it’s doing so without a recognized license. And the CPM certification is not recognized by the law.
    I’m very happy with the two, hopefully soon-to-be-three CNM-attended homebirths that I’ve had here in Indiana. I’m so glad for the extensive training and ability to write prescriptions that CNMs have. It is frustrating, though, that there are so few midwives to meet the demand. A state House vote on making CPMs legally recognized was on the docket a few years ago, but it never reached the floor because the speaker of the house decided to end the session before voting on everything on the docket (to avoid some of the other issues that were also supposed to be up for vote). We need to get it on the docket again.

    • midwifelynda
      April 14, 2012

      Unfortunately it is not so easy to serve women in Indiana even if one is a CNM. Interestingly, a new mandate is in effect that CNMs must have “collaborative” agreement with a doctor (not necessarily and OB-gyn), and there are very few willing to do so with home birth CNMs.
      I’m frequently asked by potential clients what has been the most difficult situation I have had to deal with. I’m sure they are wanting to know about transports and situations I’ve had to handle. What I answer, though, is the negative baggage women bring with them from previous hospital and birth center births. This is interestingly something that is rarely, if ever, addressed in the discussion to give women choices in childbirth.

  • Lynn
    April 3, 2012

    This has got to change. It’s a shame for this woman to have to go through this. I hope this instigates changes in the law.

  • Andi
    April 3, 2012

    I do not think it is legal to not give a diabetic access to insulin, or allow her to monitor her blood sugar! Something horrible could have happened!

    • Jen
      April 3, 2012

      Andi, obviously you have not dealt with our penal system before. My own child was incarcerated in 2004 for having knowledge of a drug dealer and not reporting him. Her crime was a felony… complicity to trafficking. She spent the first six months in a jail cell in Southern Ohio, with bond set at 50,000. She was in a cell with 5 beds (two bunks and a single) that was 12′ x 12′ square. There was one toilet in the cell. This cell held NINE women. My daughter was pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage. They took her to a hospital the day AFTER she miscarried and refused to allow her a shot of Rho-Gam (necessary for an RH negative mom). They went without toilet paper in the cell she was in for THREE DAYS. They used pages ripped out of the bible, instead. They ran out of food for two days and were fed soda crackers and water for those two days. ALL the while this was happening, I tried to find ANYONE who cared enough to take a report of these horrible conditions. Not even the local news crew cared enough to make a report on it. My daughter had not been tried, yet. By our laws, she was guilty of NOTHING until she had her day in court. Sorry to take this thread off in a different direction, but our jail system is so broken, it’s not funny.

      • Eric Roberts
        April 4, 2012

        Jen…our government is broken period. It no longer serves the people. The laws and Constitution mean nothing. Doing what is right means nothing. Our legislators both at the state and federal level care only to appease their corporatist masters and no long care what happens to the rest of us. I hope you filed a lawsuit against the state and county where your daughter was held. What happened is a violation of her civil rights plus they should be held accountable for the murder of her baby.

        I hope Ireena also sues these jerks back to the stone age (oh wait..they are already in the stone age with their thoughts…never mind) . This is certainly not the America I served to protect…its the America i served I protect us against.

        • Jackie
          April 4, 2012

          This is certainly not the America I served to protect…its the America i served I protect us against.

          Thank you for your efforts. I wish they hadn’t been in vain.
          Jackie recently posted…Signature look March sayonara!My Profile

        • dea
          April 28, 2012

          “Quote” our government is broken period. It no longer serves the people. The laws and Constitution mean nothing. Doing what is right means nothing.

          Eric you are SO right there.

          What is being done to Ireena is absolutely so sad and wrong on so many levels.

      • Karma Wilsosn
        April 4, 2012

        Jen, you should really contact Reason Magazine about this. Seems like a story they would be interested in. You might get some solid investigatory journalism from them. They are from a Libertarian perspective–and their views on lack of due process and law enforcement abuse are noted and often. In today’s society, particularly post 911, we are fed the line that “cops are the good guys”. We forget that in many instances they are people in positions of authority who shouldn’t be. The story is heart breaking. As a mother you must be beside yourself. So sorry. :(

  • Jordan Saalfrank
    April 3, 2012

    If families would like to support Ireena and publicly acknowledge the need to license Certified Professional Midwives in Indiana — they can purchase a “Liberty for Midwifery — Enlightenment for Birth” t-shirt. 100% of the proceeds go to Ireena’s Legal Defense Fund. Visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/3282663535 to purchase shirts or donate.

    • Marlene Waechter
      April 3, 2012

      Dang! I went to the site, all ready to buy a T-shirt. Good thing I read it 1st. There is not a snowballs chance in hell I would buy one now. I will donate to Ireena directly, she deserves it, TBP doesn’t!
      I have been a midwife since before many of you were born. Been there done that, yada, yada. I am not gullible enough to think for one minute that licensure would bring liberty to midwives. If Licensure brought liberty ,then there would be a lot more CNM’s doing homebirths! Think about that! Why aren’t more CNM’s doing homebirths? Why aren’t docs doing homebirths? If more CNM’s could do homebirths, we wouldn’t need any other midwives. Licensure is the noose around our necks. Wake up! Take the planks out of your eyes!
      I have commented before that we should be rallying around Ireena & each other. Bringing the licensure debate into this picture only divides us & hurts the cause. It is not about licensure, it is about freedom of choice! If it is legal to have an unassisted homebirth (as it well should be) then why should the government have any say about who you invite (or hire) into your home to attend you?! Stats have proven that homebirth with a trained attendant is as safe or safer than a hospital birth, yet the same safety standards cannot be said for unattended homebirth by untrained couples, yet that is what will happen if unlicensed midwives disappear.

      • Jordan Saalfrank
        April 3, 2012

        100% of the t-shirt proceeds go towards Ireena. Nothing is given to any other organization.

        • Marlene Waechter
          April 5, 2012

          but the shirt says license = liberty, which I believe to be a false statement, so I won’t wear it. Don’t worry, I sent my check straight to Ireena, she will get my money, I will not get a shirt.

      • Jordan Saalfrank
        April 3, 2012

        Actually, it sounds like we may be on the same page actually:
        lib·er·ty
        [lib-er-tee]

        - noun, pl. -ties.
        1. freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
        2. freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
        3. freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
        4. freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint: The prisoner soon regained his liberty.

        *That* liberty is what the t-shirts are trying to convey. Some define it as licensure and others ask for recognition. Whether you agree with the description of the t-shirt or not — it’s the liberty we’re hoping for and offering financial support to Ireena.

      • Ellen
        April 3, 2012

        I agree with Marlene. What the state giveth, the state taketh away. If they regulate it, they get to determine the restrictions. Over 40? No homebirth for you. Twins? VBAC? Breach? Gotta go to the hospital. More than 25 lbs overweight? Too bad. And on, and on, and on. They can specify that CPMs can only work with a supervising OB, and that the OB can have no more than 4 CPMs. That will keep everyone from being legal, because OBs won’t touch it due to their insurance being canceled. In this day when everyone has access to the internet, there’s no reason for licensure except that it’s a cash cow to the state. Looking for a midwife? Check her out on the web. The good ones are easy to find.

        • Sheri
          April 4, 2012

          Actually you can’t just find a midwife easily on line if you live in a state where they are hunted down by the law. Sure, I can find a CNM to attend my home birth, but there are only 5 or 6 in my state and all live over 4 hours away. So I can either “choose” (i.e. be forced) into a hospital birth, try to find an underground midwife some of which are actual CPM and some aren’t but are very good and some are scary but knowledge of them is slim b/c they are so underground, or go solo. These are not the “choices” women in America deserve.

      • Valerie Runes
        April 4, 2012

        “I have been a midwife since before many of you were born.”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        Me too, but I don’t think my age alone gives me the ability to properly interpret the law, or some particularly unique insight into the implications of midwifery licensure.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        ” Been there done that, yada, yada. I am not gullible enough to think for one minute that licensure would bring liberty to midwives. If Licensure brought liberty ,then there would be a lot more CNM’s doing homebirths! Think about that! Why aren’t more CNM’s doing homebirths? Why aren’t docs doing homebirths?”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        Perhaps because most CNMs and physicians are neither trained to do nor interested in homebirth? As a licensed nurse, I *could* work in oncology, but it doesn’t interest me and I don”t have the skills and experience to be good at it. As a licensed attorney, I *could* work in the field of secured transactions, but nothing bores me more than that, and I carefully avoided all such classes in law school. The point is that just because one has a license that would allow one to legally engage in an activity, there may be other reasons why one would choose not to. By the way, if by “liberty” you mean the ability to practice midwifery without fear of arrest and criminal charges, that is *exactly* what licensure does. A licensed midwife who is practicing within the scope of her license need not fear criminal prosecution for practicing midwifery, medicine, or nursing without a license.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        “If more CNM’s could do homebirths, we wouldn’t need any other midwives.”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        If midwife-attended homebirth is to be the standard for safe childbearing, then we need many MANY more midwives of all kinds.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        “Licensure is the noose around our necks. Wake up! Take the planks out of your eyes!”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        There are no planks in my eyes, thanks. The state has the constitutional right to license and regulate those who provide health care services to citizens. Like it or not, states that license cosmetologists, embalmers and wrestling officials are not going to turn a blind eye to those who are responsible for the lives of mothers and babies. And it is only when midwives are defined and regulated separately from physicians and nurses that the prosecution of midwives for practicing medicine without a license will stop.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        “I have commented before that we should be rallying around Ireena & each other. Bringing the licensure debate into this picture only divides us & hurts the cause.”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        Yet here you are, discussing licensure.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        ” It is not about licensure, it is about freedom of choice! If it is legal to have an unassisted homebirth (as it well should be) then why should the government have any say about who you invite (or hire) into your home to attend you?!”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        How much freedom of choice is there when good midwives are prosecuted out of practice? How are families served when their midwives sit in jail? And an unassisted homebirth is very different from hiring someone to assist you with that birth. I agree that unassisted homebirths should be legal, but — like it or not — the state *does* have the right to regulate who can be hired to assist you.
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        “Stats have proven that homebirth with a trained attendant is as safe or safer than a hospital birth, yet the same safety standards cannot be said for unattended homebirth by untrained couples, yet that is what will happen if unlicensed midwives disappear.”
        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
        Unlicensed midwives will never disappear. There will always be some midwives who will choose to reject a license, and — if they are currently practicing in an illegal state like Indiana — they will be no worse off than they are now. But families who want to hire a licensed midwife will have that option, and isn’t having more choices a good thing?

        Valerie Runes RN, JD

        • Marlene Waechter
          April 5, 2012

          Val, I don’t agree w your answer to why more CNM’s are doing homebirths. I know many who would love to, but their hands are tied by their licensure. (Since they can’t find collaborative docs, I know it would be legal for them if they could) You are right though that most CNM’s aren’t trained to do homebirths, but some are; only CPM’s are for sure. A lot of people would still prefer a CNM, if they could get one to do homebirths. Moot point. Anyway how is it “freedom” to have to choose an unlicensed midwife to do your birth over a automatic C/S just because you are a VBAC, having twins, a breech, over 35, etc. think about all the arbitrary restrictions placed on licensed midwives, that’s not how I spell freedom!

      • Guesty McGuesterson
        April 5, 2012

        “Licensure is the noose around our necks.”

        How so?

      • Guesty McGuesterson
        April 5, 2012

        How does this statement ring true in every case?

        “Licensure is the noose around our necks. ”

        “Bringing the licensure debate into this picture only divides us & hurts the cause. It is not about licensure, it is about freedom of choice!”
        Anyone, anywhere at any time can choose any birth attendant they want, in states where licesnure is available midwives can hold themselves out as trained, skilled, and knowledgeable and if you are a libertarian about your health care you can choose a 9 year old boy to attend your birth if you want, but for those of us who want to see midwives INTEGRATED into the health care system so they can earn a decent living, have a work and home life balance and advance the idea of physiologic birth in real political circles then a licensure is the way to go.

        “If it is legal to have an unassisted homebirth (as it well should be) then why should the government have any say about who you invite (or hire) into your home to attend you?!”

        Uhhh, reread your comment, it isn’t illegal to have a precipitous birth at home alone with no attendant present. A license doesn’t confer competence it confers accountability for birthing parents who want to have a midwife who holds herself/himself out as competent and to be held accountable if they are not. Licenses are for professionals.

        Stats have proven that homebirth with a trained attendant is as safe or safer than a hospital birth, yet the same safety standards cannot be said for unattended homebirth by untrained couples, yet that is what will happen if unlicensed midwives disappear.

        What the what??? What stats? What unassisted home birth stats???? Who is keeping them a magical top secret statistician?? Unassisted home birth is probably less than half a percent of half a percent in this country.

        Remember you want an unlicensed midwife you can always, always choose them, but the key here is regulate not prosecute, and certainly do not prosecute families for choosing midwives who attend births at home.

        • Valerie Runes
          April 5, 2012

          “[B]ut for those of us who want to see midwives INTEGRATED into the health care system so they can earn a decent living, have a work and home life balance and advance the idea of physiologic birth in real political circles then a licensure is the way to go.”

          What an excellent point! How are the needs of families served when midwifery remains an underground activity that is accessible only to those who know the “right people” or the secret password? How can midwifery become the standard of care when when women who must tranfer to the hospital are accompanied by midwives who suddenly become “sisters” or “friends” or “doulas” when the proverbial crap hits the fan? Underground, illegal midwifery serves the best interests of no one.

  • Linda Tagliaferro
    April 3, 2012

    My heart goes out to this woman. She’s assisting women in the safest, most natural form of giving life and she’s apparently a threat to doctors who are relying on machines to complicate what is supposed to be a family-centered event.

    I gave birth to my son at home many years ago and I was out and about the next day with him. There was no traumatic screaming — from him or me– no drugs, no hospital environment (and consequent germs)… just a quiet, loving, easy delivery into this world.

    This is not an “alternative”.. this is the way women were built to deliver children.

    I wish there were more brave midwives like Ireena Keeslar.

  • Patrice Bobier
    April 3, 2012

    I wanted to correct the statement that midwifery was legal by default in Michigan. There is really no such thing. We are also vulnerable to the whims of law enforcement or an angry doc or hospital. In the past month, 2 midwives in Michigan have had detectives question them after transports (both moms and babies were fine, and were transported appropriately, following organizational protocols).

    We support a bill introduced in Michigan in October 2011 to license midwives based on the Certified Professional Midwife credential. Our sponsor, Rep. Ed McBroom, was born at home and has had home births with his wife. He’s very supportive of out of hospital births and the midwifery model of care.

    It will take support of the consumers of midwifery care outside a hospital to get effective legislation passed for Indiana and Michigan. Please rally for Ireena and licensure in all 50 states! Regulation beats prosecution any day.

    Thank you!

    • Karen Parris
      April 3, 2012

      Not necessarily true. In Michigan, if it’s not expressedly forbidden in written law (MCL), it is allowed. Once the government gets involved in ‘regulating’ and licensing things start going downhill…
      The less government interference, the better and more true Freedom there will be for us all.

      • Eric Roberts
        April 4, 2012

        I think what she is saying is that doctors and law enforcement can cause problems because there are no laws protecting midwives by making it expressly legal…

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      Patrice is correct. Where midwives are not defined and regulated separately from physicians and nurses, nor specifically exempted from the Medical and Nurse Practice Acts, they are subject to prosecution for practicing medicine and/or nursing without a license.

      Valerie Runes, RN JD

  • Complete MADNESS!!! I am so outraged — and to imagine with all the problems in the US, that they would waste time and money arresting a midwife! Insane. My head is exploding.

    • Chrislyn
      April 3, 2012

      I agree. It’s just like the year or two that FDA agents singled out an Amish raw milk producer in Pennsylvania and basically caused him to shut down his farm. It’s not about health, what’s logical, giving us a choice (or a voice), or personal responsibility but about snuffing out anything that goes against big business profits. I’m a proud mama of three homebirthed babes (two unassisted…CPM en route but babies couldn’t wait!) who love their raw milk! Thank goodness there are women like Ireena around to stand up for what they believe is right and give those of us who agree the opportunity to experience homebirth. There really is nothing like it!

      • midwifelynda
        April 14, 2012

        oh, yes: the raw milk arrests have (and are) occurred in Indiana recently as well.

  • Theresa
    April 3, 2012

    I would have to disagree with the cost of giving birth in a hospital…I had all of my children in the hospital, natural (no drugs)…and we paid $15,000 each. That was for two days. It is very expensive, my babies stayed with me the entire time, yet we were charged for “baby care”…I changed every single diaper and nursed. While I think women should have a choice, I personally chose to have my children at the hospital due to some serious potential complications that I have experienced…

    • Karen Parris
      April 3, 2012

      I think the point being made was that home-birth is much less expensive than hospital birth, in which case you make that point even stronger with your personal statistics. :)

  • Steph
    April 3, 2012

    Alexandra: Indiana does allow midwifery in home settings, but only CNMs, not CPMs.

    It’s important to distinguish that HOME BIRTH is not illegal – just that the CPM is not legally allowed to attend them.

    • Steph
      April 3, 2012

      which is just absurd, who is anyone to say who can attend a person’s delivery??

  • Mary Helen Ayres
    April 3, 2012

    Thank you for this article, Jennifer, and sorry we didn’t have a chance to connect yesterday. Really appreciate Patrice’s clarification as well.

    I’d like to address Dr Wiese’s comments. Having been involved since the beginning in Indiana’s efforts to create a licensure law for CPMs (Certified Professional Midwives), I can state unequivocally that no one is more distressed by “trainwrecks” than the careful, competent professional homebirth midwives who in fact do practice within a safe standard of care, pursue continuing education, and participate in regular peer review. The fact that none of the 27 states in which CPMs are licensed are reporting problems supports the argument that passing Indiana’s bill would be the most effective step towards weaning out sub-standard practitioners.

  • This story is all too familiar. There is no reason in the argument against choice of home birthing and/or midwifery. There is much statistical data that supports it. Certainly enough to question those that oppose it for “safety” reasons. I feel for Ireena and abhor the archaic mind that prefers the modern day witch hunt.

    • Sheri
      April 4, 2012

      Thank you for weighing in. I truly wish more physicians openly shared your logical opinion.

  • babz covington
    April 3, 2012

    ‘Dr. Kurt Wiese, M.D., an obstetrician in private practice in Valparaiso, says that he’s ambivalent about whether professional midwifery should be legal. and,“I’m not worried about losing money to them,” he tells me. “The large majority of people still choose to deliver in the hospital.”

    “From my own personal perspective, the ugliest aspect of all of this is that their train wreck or their disaster shows up at my doorstep and I become responsible for their irresponsibility,” he says. ‘ (Yes, that is exactly what ambivalence sounds like to me .)

    • Melissa Pate RN
      April 3, 2012

      That’s exactly what I thought when I read it…

  • Mary Ann Griffin
    April 3, 2012

    Indiana midwives have asked the legislature to provide a licensing law for CPMs since 1995. We asked for de-criminalization in the mid eighties. Indiana is one of only 9 states that have such criminal penalties for midwives. Midwives in Indiana and other states can be charged with practice of medicine as well. It is important to note that while CNMs have the legal ability to attend home births, the state’s Attorney General believes that a written practice agreement is necessary. Few doctors are willing to provide those agreements to CNMs, so all homebirthing families are at risk of having their careprovider arrested or unlicensed. There are brave physicians in Indiana doing what makes homebirth safe; providing open consultation, collaboration, and transfer services when necessary. Legislators need to look at the 26 states that have licensure and vote to get our bill passed.

  • Kristen
    April 3, 2012

    So sad. I wonder what happened that the authorities thought this was the right time–and appropriate action to take here. So let me get this right, it’s legal to have a homebirth but not to have a CNM there? This makes no sense! I hope you’ll keep updating us on this story

    • Mary Ann Griffin
      April 3, 2012

      There are CNMs providing legal services to homebirth mothers in Indiana. There are CNMs who work hard to get those written practice agreements without success. CPMs provide service at the risk of arrest and prosecution. My point is that all homebirth midwives are at the mercy of a system that protects its own interests first and those of the mothers and babies second. When doctors are able grant or deny practice to midwives, it is like the fox guarding the henhouse. A thirty percent cesarian rate, early inductions producing preterm births, and a dismal maternal mortality rate should be pointing at the need for change. The lawmakers need to do their job for the appoximately 1000 Indiana families a year who choose homebirth.

  • anya
    April 3, 2012

    For sure the law has got to change but I guess what’s hovering over my mind is, did she break the law?
    As someone who had given birth twice with the assistance of CPM’s, I understand their value and it really makes me sad that some states do not allow such. But if it was the law and she broke it…
    We need to work towards changing the laws, not breaking them just because we don’t agree with it.

    • R.
      April 3, 2012

      Yes, exactly! Thank you.

    • Vicki Streiff
      April 4, 2012

      I disagree. I believe non-violently refusing to follow unjust laws is civil disobedience and is that backbone of positive change here and around the world.

      As for home birth, I birthed my first child in Bloomington hospital and found it a fairly annoying though adequate experience. I had a home birth midwife there, but this was more of a coincidence than a plan. She was my hired doula, and it was the OB-GYN who caught my son.

      Nonetheless, it was an easy step for me to ask her to be my prenatal care provider and birth attendant when I next got pregnant. (And when I gave birth a third time, having her there was more important than having my husband there, and he agreed!) The experiences between home and hospital were light years apart for me, but all three children were extremely healthy at birth and right after.

      I did my research before birthing at home and, despite what so many US doctors say, the stats from other first world countries were not just convincing. They were overwhelming. Not every pregnancy/mother is a good candidate for home birth, but for those who are, and who want to birth at home, it is a beautiful and incredibly safe choice.

      Someday we will have single payer healthcare in the country and the US government will see how much money home birth and high breastfeeding rates will lower short and long term health care costs. Until then, we suffer these painful, long haul, piecemeal attempts all over the country to better things one state at a time.

      And until then, we fund raise for midwives arrested for doing the right thing, whether or not it is also the legal thing.

      • ExpectingEaster
        April 4, 2012

        “Someday we will have single payer healthcare in the country and the US government will see how much money home birth and high breastfeeding rates will lower short and long term health care costs.”

        And then, Vicki, the Fed will be able to tell me I can’t have a midwife at home, and there’s no recourse for it. If you think getting changes made at the state level is difficult, wait until the federal government has the stranglehold on your healthcare. As much as I would love a federally offered healthcare system (the poor and middle classes need it desperately), it is terrifying to me, as well.

        Why? Because the same people influencing lawmakers in Indiana are influencing our lawmakers in Washington, and make no mistake. They have enough bribe money to tie our arms and legs to the bed and put us back in the days of “twilight sleep” deliveries if they want to.

  • Rachel
    April 3, 2012

    I hope she decides to do what she can about her treatment in jail as well. I wish I could physically be there to help support.

  • Lyndsey
    April 3, 2012

    I propose someone in the state start a Change.org petition to get the charges dropped and the law updated!

  • Mary Helen Ayres
    April 3, 2012

    In response to Anya, I would observe that our country has a strong and proud tradition of people consciously violating laws that are patently unjust. It’s called civil disobedience, and when used effectively is a catalyst for more just laws being written. In the meantime those brave enough to risk their freedom by acting in accordance with their conscience — e.g., Ireena providing safe midwifery care despite Indiana’s oppressive laws — sometimes pay a high price.

    It’s importance that Ireena’s sacrifice ultimately contribute to a saner and safer law for Indiana families, and I hope those like Anya who have benefited from the work of CPMs in other states will take tangible action to make things more fair for all.

    • Karen Parris
      April 3, 2012

      Agreed

  • Mike K.Kase
    April 3, 2012

    Someday my home state will crawl out of the dark ages and I won’t be ashamed to admit I’m a Hoosier.

    • midwifelynda
      April 3, 2012

      agree

  • Barbara
    April 3, 2012

    Please express your concerns about this midwife’s arrest and poor treatment in jail. Here are the email addresses for the county commissioners: gbachman@lagrangecounty.org, lmiller@lagrangecounty.org, gheller@lagrangecounty.org

  • Melody
    April 3, 2012

    I believe that every single family that she has attended a birth with should gather their friends as well and head down on the day of court! She risked her freedom for their freedom to birth where they wanted to and they owe it to her! Now it is time to show the courts what women want!!

  • ruth pennebaker
    April 3, 2012

    Let me get this straight. We have Skittles-carrying teenagers being gunned down by vigilantes, while the state of Indiana is making its streets safe from midwives?
    ruth pennebaker recently posted…Thoughts While Hanging Upside Down, Kind of Like a BatMy Profile

  • Julie
    April 3, 2012

    I gave birth to my son with a CPM in Indiana and it was easily the most significant event in my life. I would give just about anything to repeat that birth experience with my current pregnancy here in South Dakota. Unfortunately, CPM’s have been persecuted so severely here that they no longer exist. Now we are facing an unassisted birth because we do not feel the hospital is a safe environment for our birth. The situation of government and big medicine controlling our lives and choices is really terrifying.

    • Becky
      April 3, 2012

      Julie. They do exist. Ask around for names. I wouldn’t endanger any of them with names here

    • R.
      April 3, 2012

      Why don’t you hire a CNM who attends home births?

    • Sheri
      April 4, 2012

      I’ve heard that at some LLL meetings you can leave information to have a midwife contact you (at least in my similar oppressed state). Also find a “crunchy” parenting group or a baby wearing group. I know I can find a name through our state organization trying to license CPM. It is hard though b/c you can’t truly check the midwife’s background when they are forced so far underground.

  • diannekinzer
    April 3, 2012

    We had our son at home almost 35 years ago. I had a doctor attend, and it was peaceful and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This should be the choice of the parents. Pitocin and all the other interventions so often are not good things.

    Interesting fact – 35 yrs ago, the women in my age group were worried something might go wrong. The older women said, well, that’s what we did.

  • Becky
    April 3, 2012

    I want to clarify the statement that CNm’s are allowed to legally do home births in Indiana. I thought this was true, also. It is not technically true. CNm’s can be listened; however, they have to have a collaborating doctor to work under and nearly none will collaborate. This may be a liability issue… Not sure. However, another CNm’s was Arrested recently in Indiana and charged because there was no collaborating doctor. As someone who considers herself not a risk taker and not willing to put my baby in danger, And who ended up with a nicu baby because of a bad hospital outcome, I did A lot of research and am completely convinced that home birth to a healthy mom is much safer than hospital birth in my area, when done with a medically trained midwife.

    • midwifelynda
      April 3, 2012

      Becky,
      To clarify your post: the CNM was not arrested because she did not have a collaborating physician. Please note, also, that a collaboration is an agreement – not something that states a CNM must work under a doc.
      It is hard -very much so – for ANY midwife to serve women in the home in Indiana.

    • Tess Adams
      April 3, 2012

      My Daughter was a NICU baby as well, but in my case if I had not had ultrasounds and had everything prepared before birth my baby would not be turning 8 next month. She has spina bifida (all the way to t12 for those who know) and the large sack holding her spinal cord would have burst in labor. If I had not gone through the early un-natural testing, we would not have known and would not have scheduled the C-section.

      I do agree, women should have the right to choose, but make it a very informed decision. I for one will be doctors all the way, as I have the most incredible 7 year old girl in the world and I have doctors to thank for it.

      • Lynn
        April 4, 2012

        You were a high risk mom. A midwife won’t accept a high risk mom as a client. They are highly trained professionals who review all information to make the most informed decisions. You would not have been a candidate for an at home birth.

        • Tess Adams
          April 4, 2012

          My question then for you, is how would I have been declared a high risk mom, had I not had the ultrasound?

          • Julie
            April 4, 2012

            Women can always choose to have an ultrasound even under midwifery care. I personally had a homebirth with a CPM, but also opted for a 16 week anatomy scan. It’s all about choice. Some women choose to not have a scan even under OB care so I’m not seeing your point really.

          • Lynn
            April 4, 2012

            You have that before delivery as well as testing for other birth defects well before delivery. Any abnormal test would indicate a need for a hospital birth.

            Whether you use a midwife or hospital, prenatal care and diagnostic testing is a must, for the mother and the baby.

          • Lynn
            April 4, 2012

            I’ve yet to hear of an obstetrician who DOESN’T order an ultrasound. Have you?

        • SS RN
          April 5, 2012

          Unfortunately this is not the case. I have been witness to CPMs in this same area who are delivering multiple gestation, breech presentation, and on one instance a diabetic with an insulin pump. These are all extremely high risk yet these women don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing!!!

          • midwifelynda
            April 14, 2012

            I do not agree with your “extremely high risk” statement regarding the examples you stated. Perhaps a bit of research and looking outside of the United States medical model will give you different insight.

  • Helen
    April 3, 2012

    Nothing is going to change as long as ACOG can punish doctors who participate in or support home birth in any way. The OBs complain basically that there isn’t seamless service for birthing women, while they refuse to work in coordination with even legal midwives in Indiana to provide it. Midwives need open and honest relationships with the OBs in order to have reasonable back up for their clients, and not to have to sneak around. When homebirth clients are transported, they need care, and not to be berated and singled out for even intending a home birth and then coming to hospital. It’s not perfect here in Ontario, and we need many more midwives. Women do get their seamless care, and no one scolds them for going into labor prematurely and having to birth in hospital with their midwives instead of at home as planned. And midwifery care is paid for, so the only two-tiered system comes when there are just no midwives available in some areas, and in other areas the practices are full.

  • Barbara
    April 3, 2012

    We’re having the same problems here in NC as we near the short session in the legislature where we’re hoping our bill will be heard. Picking on the midwives as if that would deter us. My message to the legislators has been that NPs and PAs meet the requirements to sit for a certifying exam that has a golden reputation. They don’t learn via the same tracks. CNMs in our state and CPMs both satisfy the requirements to sit for an exam that is given by the same agency. They both become certified but only one is licensed.

    Here in NC there are 20-25 of our 100 counties that do not have practitioners to provide prenatal care. Evidence shows that mothers and babies die more often when they don’t have access to prenatal care.

    Midwives live in these counties but can’t practice for fear of imprisonment. What a sick society.

  • Sheila Van Hemert
    April 3, 2012

    My husband and I chose home birth for 3 of our 4 daughters. Each one was an amazing, healthy, spiritual experience. In fact, one of our daughters is now pregnant and is also choosing a home birth, with the same midwife that delivered her. Oh the joy!!

    I only wish I would have known what I know now, and never would have opted to have a hospital birth with our first daughter.

    It’s very sad to see our rights being taken away from us, left and right. I’ve been into natural healing for 30 years, and have helped many. The FDA has their hit list and has taken away some of our most powerful herbals, and continue to do so. The tragic end to this, is they want to regulate us to death…..and come to the place where only M.D.’s are legally able to dispense natural healing supplements. How is the world is that going to work, when they don’t study healing? They are only “practicing” medicine. AND they do NOT learn healing in medical school. They spend all their time learning about disease.

    That’s my 2 cents…for what it’s worth. I completely support Ireena and pray there are many more like her!!

    Carrying the torch for home birth!!
    Sheila

  • R.
    April 3, 2012

    The home canned pickles in her pantry, while cute, do not qualify her to be a midwife in the state of Indiana. As to having a choice, home birth is not illegal, practicing midwifery without a license is. Why do people get up in arms about people who disobey the law spending time in jail?

    • Natalie
      April 4, 2012

      Because the law doesn’t make sense.

      • Julie
        April 4, 2012

        Because there isn’t an option to practice in the state legally. When I chose to birth outside of my home there was only 1 legal midwife by state standards to attend my birth. The only problem was that she lived 2 hours away. My options then were that I could: Go to a hospital with a 40% c/s rate, birth by myself unassisted or have a qualified attendant that had no way of receiving a license in the state because they DO NOT OFFER IT! I chose to go with an “illegal” midwife because the other options were not valid in my situation.

  • Mark
    April 3, 2012

    Do your Research Doctor Kurt. Home births by trained Midwives have drastic statistical advantages to the “messes” typically caused at hospitals. Don’t belittle their education and experience with your thoughtless comments.

    Though there is always a risk, the risks of at home birth with a properly trained midwife are far less than any hospital birth. The risk are also something the parents acknowledge and are told about in the process. It is a conscious decision. I did my homework when my wife got pregnant and we birthed the way nature intended and the way our son wanted to be born — at home– in water with minimal interventions. It was probably the best choice I’ve ever made as a father and partner.

  • Kristina
    April 3, 2012

    That is horrible!!
    I live in Ontario and here Midwives are covered by health care, can practice in homes and hospitals without any fear. I am SOOOO pro midwife, I had one with my son (with my daughter i had a doctor) and could not believe the difference!! They were more knowledgable, more informative, more caring, more wonderful in EVERY way than a doctor, I would NEVER go back to having a doctor!!!

    • midwifelynda
      April 14, 2012

      and it was not so long ago, Kristina, that Canada did not support out of hospital midwives. We will continue to walk the path toward legislation for CPMs.

  • Alisa Bowman
    April 3, 2012

    We have a choice in every other thing that affects our health and our children’s health. We can choose to eat healthy foods or not. We can choose to smoke or not. We can choose to exercise or not. Yet no one is passing laws against people who smoke in front of their kids–even though reams of studies show that it harms the kid’s health. Yet here we have doctors and politicians passing laws against midwifery when the evidence of harm is scant at best. There seems to be more evidence of harm in the other direction. So perhaps it’s time to just let parents make their own choices here and keep the politicians out of it.
    Alisa Bowman recently posted…He Keeps It All Inside. She Doesn’t Edit a Single Thought.My Profile

  • Carol Roedocker, CNM
    April 3, 2012

    These laws only change when consumers/voters (women and men) demand what they want. Those who want to see the changes have to be loud and persistent enough to overcome the physician and insurance lobbyists and money. There is abundant research supporting the safety of home birth.

    • midwifelynda
      April 14, 2012

      yes, yes, yes, Carol! Consumers reading these posts: STAND UP FOR MIDWIVES and HOME BIRTH!

  • I Sykes
    April 3, 2012

    This is horrible that this is happening but it is all about money! The same thing is happening with geriactric care with nursing homes versus private homes. In many states people who take in elderly people into their homes to care for them are being turned in or not allowed to have hospice care in their private care homes because the bottom line is they are taking money away from some rich owner of a long term care home or a state run nursing home. The states answer is shut them down and make it illegal. I live in America where it should be my decision what I want to do with my body or with my mom or dad when I can no longer provide care for them. If Susie has an extra bedroom in her home and stays home 24 hrs a day and is willing to care for my mom with Alzheimers while I am working and raising my family why should the state be able to say no you can’t do that we want your $6000 a month to care for her in a state run home. I think our country has gone crazy.

  • Amy Jones
    April 3, 2012

    Soooo archaic that they arrested her. Seriously, catch up with the rest of the world….the authorities and OB’s in this state are a joke to have this position.

  • Grace Farrell
    April 4, 2012

    It’s always been about the money and about male dominance in the field. Check out the rise of medical schools in the 19th c that resulted in a glut of physicians, almost all of whom were male. Obstetrics was dominated by females/midwives and a concerted effort (always under the rubric of professionalism) was made to reduce their presence in the medical marketplace.

    What we see here, and throughout our current social debates, is a replay from the 19th c

  • Marian
    April 4, 2012

    It’s sad to see other women throughout the world do not have the same freedoms that we have here in NZ.

    Good Luck Ireena

    • Shelley
      April 4, 2012

      Hi Ireena, its true that women have freedom of choice of carer in NZ yet birth occurs mainly in hospitals in your country and caesarean rates are rising. The choice of carer is not enough. Childbirth has to be moved out of the biomedical risk paradigm. To counteract the medicalisation or what I call the ‘industrialisation’ of birth is to move it outside the hospital system (as stated by Karen Guilliland), that is, to normalise childbirth as a non-medical condition. Women will truly have choice and complete control of their childbearing health and well being only then. Childbirth is a normal life event and a woman has the right to choose the fundamental safety of normality.

  • Sheila Van Hemert
    April 4, 2012

    The truth will “always” prevail – and by their fruit you will recognize them. There are many wonderful birth options available, for each and every woman on the planet. The sad thing is “they” are attempting to only make known “their” side, and not the big picture. They widely publicize these types of news stories, and are encouraged to do so. Where are the stories of the medical side of things? Where are the stories of those that are injured or pass away from their doctor’s faulty advise? You rarely hear them. But unearth a story about a natural healer, or midwife, or alternative health practitioner and the roof blows off with negativity….and it’s very deceptive. Others follow blindly, and quickly join the negative camp and the strongholds form….which steers them onto the path of deception. Very sad indeed. I pray the truth will prevail…and I do know God will see to it….as He always does. Unveiling the eyes of those that are blinded to the truth. Go God!!

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    First of all this article makes me absolutly sick! Obviously whomever wrote this article did not do their research. This woman and any other woman who practices medicine and or midwifery in the state of Indiana and know the laws and choose not to abide by them, deserves to go to jail! I have been an OB nurse in a hospital setting for several years and the hospital which I work in is in the Amish community and because many of the Amish choose to have their babies at home they are preyed upon by these midwives and are led to believe that these Certified “Professional” midwives are capable of providing good care. What the Amish do not realize is that this is illegal in the state of Indiana. I have been the nurse on several occasions when CPM’s bring in absolute catastrophies and dump them on us at the hospital. I have witnessed three babies die under the care of CPM’s and if they had followed with a physican and delivered in a hospital this could have been avoided. There are worse things than a Cesarean Section!!! And as far as the $ this article is way off, at least at the hospital where I am employed. I have met wonderful Certified Nurse Midwives who do a wonderful job! And yes there is a HUGE difference…it’s called EDUCATION

    • R B
      May 20, 2012

      This is just an ignorant post by an uninformed individual. I’m sure you turn a blind eye to the number of births that go bad in the hospital because of unnecessary interventions and the number of Cesareans performed despite no medical reason.

  • Valerie Runes
    April 4, 2012

    Huh. Who knew? Whenever the Amish are asked to show up to support a prosecuted midwife, they seem to show up in droves. Apparently they didn’t get the memo about their ignorance of the legal status of midwives in Indiana. I am also guessing that they don’t feel like “prey.”

    Valerie — also an RN who has worked OB, a former homebirth midwife, and a current lawyer

    • Susan Ingram
      April 5, 2012

      Thankyou Valerie.

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    Well if you are a lawyer you should know that what these midwives are doing is illegal! Also, I did not call the Amish ignorant, I meant they were being mislead. All I’m saying is that if you support this you obviously have not witnessed some of the tragedies that I have.

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      As a lawyer, I know that guilt is determined by a judge or jury and is based on evidence presented at trial. None of us — even an RN who doesn’t like what “these midwives are doing”– is in a position to determine guilt.

      As to the Amish, you stated “what the Amish do not realize is that this is illegal in the state of Indiana.” How does that differ from calling them ignorant of the law regarding midwifery in Indiana? At any rate, considering their ongoing support of midwifery, *they* don’t seem to feel they are being misled.

      Finally, yes — in my time as an OB RN I have witnessed plenty of tragedy — some of it the result of hospital stupidity. How about the AROM with the vertex floating, leading to a cord prolapse and crash C/S? Or maybe the idiot doctor who let a full term stillborn slip out of his hands and into slop bucket on the floor? Or possibly the night we all stood around in the OR, waiting for the anesthesiologist to show up (he was asleep a couple floors below), while the FHTs just kept dropping…and dropping…and dropping? Yessirree. Bad things happen. They do happen at home, but they also happen at the hospital.

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    Well Valerie it looks as though this is something near and dear to your heart as I see you were also at the center of a midwifery scandle. I see that you were fraudulently representing yourself as a CNM in 2001. Hmmmm

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      Hmmm…indeed. And quite a shame that you don’t have all the facts of that case, rather than a one-shot Google search to find ammo for an ad hominem attack. And by the way — before you go much farther with that “scandle” [sic] thing, you might want to review the elements of defamation.

  • Dawn S
    April 4, 2012

    According to news articles her and Jeannie were arrested for delivering babies on expired liscenses not just because they are midwifes. If it is our right to decide to use a midwife then this arrest is very upsetting to me. If it is truely because they were doing it on expired liscense then that is another story as I feel that moms and babies need to be protected.

    On a personal note Jeannie has delivered 4 of my 5 girlies one in a hospital and 3 at home. And Ireena was there to assist in at least one of those. These are amazing women that made my home birth experience a wonderful thing. My one hospital birth without them was a nightmare.

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    Facts are facts and you had your license suppended and paid a fine, that tells me you were at fault! Just another so called midwife who thinks they can play God.

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      It is a shame that you don’t actually know the facts. Yes indeed — I had my license “suppended” and did pay a fine. Of course, you must also know that it was subsequently reinstated, but when all you have got is ad hominem attacks, it doesn’t much matter, does it?

      Ah, JL Nurse. Yeah, I guess you “got” me. Damn. Guess I will just go cower in a corner, now. On the other hand, it is always such a shame when people who can’t address the issues have to resort to personal attacks. In the end, it says a lot more about YOU than it does about ME.

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    This was totally about the issue!!! These women need to be held accountable for their actions.

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      And what are the specific actions for which they need to be “held accountable”? In THIS case. THIS midwife. What thing did she do?

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    Practicing without a license. The other midwife that was arrested was writing prescriptions to children and men. Neither of them are CNM’s, and as the law clearly states you must be a Certified Nurse Midwife in IN to practice midwifery.

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      Practicing WHAT without a license? Medicine? Nursing? Midwifery? You have to be a lot more specific. What does it mean to “practice without a license”? What actions did this midwife perform that constitute the unlicensed practice of medicine/nursing/midwifery?

      Even so, these are accusations. Some of us would like to believe that the State has the burden to prove guilt before one is actually convicted. You know — that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. All I see here is YOUR claim about what someone else may have done. Are you really ready to put someone in jail because you don’t like these midwives?

      • Megan
        April 5, 2012

        Valerie I think I have a crush on you.

        • Valerie Runes
          April 5, 2012

          LOL! The you are clearly just as crazy as I am! :)

          • Krystyna
            April 6, 2012

            I think I have a crush on you too. :) (2L having giggle fits at JL Nurse’s comments and your well reasoned rebuttals.)

          • Valerie Runes
            April 6, 2012

            Ah Krystna — as a law student you are already crazy by default :) But thank you for your kind words — it is lovely to see you here!

            You know, I really don’t have any particular problem with JL Nurse. I don’t KNOW JL Nurse, and I am not about to spend my evening on Google, trying to find some torrid bit of information about her. For all I know, she is a terrific person and a great nurse. The problem I have is when people are unable to argue issues instead of personalities. I have been debating the legal aspects of midwifery and homebirth for more than thirty years, and while I have had some wonderful arguments with people who disagree with me (including some who have persuaded me to reassess my positions), too often such arguments devolve into something on the order of “You are a doo-doo head!” “No, YOU are a doo-doo head!” “NO, YOU!”

            I have no qualms about my position: I support the mandatory licensure of direct-entry midwives. Some people disagree with that. But whether those people believe that midwives should not be licensed, or (as I assume with JL Nurse) believe that all midwives should be CNMs, it is not unreasonable to expect a calm, well-reasoned debate. It is the only way we all learn.

    • midwifelynda
      April 14, 2012

      Jeannie was a CNM. Please stop rushing to slap someone else down and crowing that you know everything, JL. Go back to your labor and delivery unit, bow to the doctors (be sure to stand up and give them your seat when they walk onto the unit), do things the way “we’ve always done it”, and insult intelligent educated women who are working as midwives because they KNOW it is best for their clients.

  • Interested Illinois Resident
    April 4, 2012

    Dear JL: Actually, I was at Valerie Runes’ hearing, and it came out that she, in face, did NOT represent herself as you claim. Also there were no bad outcomes associated with that travesty of a hearing, so I don’t understand your wild, unsubstantiated claim that she was involved in any sort of scandal. Any non-hysterical person knows that professional midwives are unduly targeted and dealt with far more heavy-handedly than they should be.

    The real issue is that women very reasonably need access to licensed home birth providers (esp b/c they are safer for low-risk moms regardless of your short-sited misunderstanding of statistics), the certified professional midwife certification is the only certification that validate out-of-hospital training and experience, and Indiana is backward in failing to recognize this very necessary component of maternity care.

    Shame on you, Nurse JL, for failing to do your research. Otherwise you would know that your anecdotes do not necessarily point to any truism. Also, you might realize that an “illegal” state creates a hostile environment that is likely as much of a factor in the “disasters” you witnessed, and some of the midwives with whom you have had encounters may or may not be cpms. It’s funny, in a sad sort of way, how the nation’s leading researchers (like Eugene DeClerq and the American Public Health Association) support licensing of CPMS, but surely some nurse in Podunk, Indiana know far better than one of the leading CDC researchers. (ugh)

    P.S. It’s my understanding that Ms. Runes was a charge or lead OB Nurse at one point in her career, so she could have been your boss! Ha!

    • Guesty McGuesterson
      April 4, 2012

      “P.S. It’s my understanding that Ms. Runes was a charge or lead OB Nurse at one point in her career, so she could have been your boss! Ha!”

      -Comment of the year-

    • midwifelynda
      April 14, 2012

      … and let’s not forget Marsden Wagner as we celebrate Eugene DeClerq.

  • GriffDarling
    April 4, 2012

    It’s my human right to choose the midwife of my choice.
    In the state of IN they don’t recognize CMP’s, that doesn’t mean they are any less qualified or ‘forgot’ everything they know the second they cross the border into Indiana.

    When dealing with this issue it’s easy to quote the law, but that doesn’t make the law right. The law steps on my right as a consumer.
    There is no way to get a CPM license.
    She was arrested for not having something you could not obtain.

  • JL Nurse
    April 4, 2012

    Your right it’s just MY claim…I’ve got work to do and I think your crazy!

    • Valerie Runes
      April 4, 2012

      If it is crazy to believe that YOUR CLAIM is not enough to convict someone of a crime, then may I be the craziest damn lawyer out there.

  • Leslea Tash
    April 4, 2012

    I’ve had two hospital and two home births. I respect a mother’s decision to make either choice. Spreading ignorance about midwifery just puts mothers in a bad position. The human race has been around for thousands of years. Arresting midwives does not change that we are naturally well-equipped to birth. There are some great reasons for hiring a doctor to assist in some cases, but for most, a trained midwife should be a choice, and it’s so sad when it’s not. I’ve never met a midwife or doula who was reckless with a mother or baby’s health. I’ve met many doctors who don’t even listen to patients. There is a disconnect in medicine. There is no such disconnect in midwifery.
    Leslea Tash recently posted…Where there is charity and wisdom by St. Francis of Assisi…My Profile

  • Emily
    April 5, 2012

    I would just like to point out that certified nurse midwifes can not only attend hospital births but also home births legally in Indiana. Your article makes it sound as if all home births are illegal in Indiana, and that is not the case. I had a home birth with a CNM and have just started my prenatal care for a second. I’m sure my midwife would be more than happy to educate you, and your readers, about the legality and safety of home birth with a CNM.

  • Michelle
    April 5, 2012

    I don’t think it’s outrageous that she was arrested. WHEN YOU BREAK THE LAW, YOU SHOULD BE ARRESTED. However, I do think that it’s outrageous that MIDWIVERY is illegal. If I lived in Indiana and wanted a midwife to deliver my babies, I would go to the LEGISLATORS and petition to have the law changed. But don’t break the law and get all upset because you have to face the consequences.

    • SS RN
      April 5, 2012

      Why does everyone keep saying midwifery is illegal in IN? It is not, practicing without the proper license is! What is so hard to understand about this??? Go to school become an RN get your masters degree in midwifery and then deliver babies of you choose!!!

  • MamaZit
    April 5, 2012

    As a mother of 13 children and a woman who has had amazingly normal and wonderful birth outcomes but is still considered high risk by the medical AND licensed midwifery community (obese, grand multip, GBS carrier, multiple macrosomic babies {babies over 10 pounds at birth} and who knows how many more “risk factors” one could find)—–WHY DOESN’T MY CHOICE MATTER?

    I can choose to abort a baby in most states well into the second trimester of my pregnancy—but I cannot be trusted to choose to have a friend, even one who has studied and trained to know about a birth, present at my births without putting her at risk? WHY AREN’T WE FOCUSED ON THE REAL ISSUE HERE? We are giving away our parental rights!!!!! This is just the beginning—when a state has the right and ability to legislate us into a corner of what they feel is safe or not –and to arbitrarily tell us that we are not smart enough or wise enough to screen those out there willing to help to find one qualified enough to our liking so they have to do it for us—-that is when we lose our way and lose even more parental rights than we already have given away!

    I am glad, FOR NOW, that unattended birth is still legal—but as more and more states insist on licensing midwives and regulating who is and is not qualified to be “low risk” enough to birth at home in the first place (don’t think they are not already coming after parents–they are–taking their children from hospitals–a new case in PA proves this is true) and who you can or cannot have there with you, which midwife is qualified or not qualified—the faster we will reach the point when unattended birth will become illegal as well. One more parental right out the door

    How far are we from state regulated determination of how many children a family can have? I mean—if we are not capable to decide who is qualified to serve us or where to safely birth, then how can we be qualified to know how many children we can actually parent “responsibly?” Then maybe they will want to watch and be sure we know how to conceive properly—we all already know our government is quickly moving to take so many of our rights through new medical systems and forced insurance coverage as it is.

    I love Ireena—I am praying for her and will try and support her financially—her situation is ignorant and should be a moot point—IF–we were focusing on the true issue at hand—FIGHTING FOR PARENTAL RIGHTS TO CHOOSE WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM! I have not chosen homebirth without KNOWING full well the risks of birth period. 7 of my children have been born at home—3 with unlicensed midwives in a state where midwifery is neither legal or illegal and 4 unattended because my current state requires a licensed provider and I don’t want the fear and regulations their licensure brings (not to mention I don’t fit the “low risk” category any longer).

    And incidentally—my twins were born in a hospital, where they died hours after birth–medical negligence was the cause—a refusal of my docs to listen to a mother’s (a very educated mother) intuition about a GBS infection and they refused to do the proper testing–which I told them needed to be done. By the time they gave in to test me–it was too late and I was already in labor and gave birth to them at 24 weeks. They did not even try to help them survive. SO forgive me if I don’t buy into the poor docs who have to pick up the pieces of the horrible midwives and their transfers when I know that the US has the worst record for maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality in the industrialized nations (and those numbers come from HOSPITAL birth outcomes).

    Why when a baby dies in a hospital we assume everything in the doctors (read god complex here) power was done perfectly and nothing could have been helped—but when a baby dies anywhere else–some heinous unlicensed birth worker HAS TO BE to blame! ??Death is a part of life, people!!!! Some babies were not meant to live outside of their precious mommy’s womb! My biggest regret was not insisting on going home when I knew my labor could not be stopped and giving birth to my precious preemie twins at home. They could have lived their few hours here on earth in the peace and quiet of my home where they were created and nurtured and loved for the 24 weeks I was blessed to carry them.

    FIGHT FOR PARENTAL RIGHTS–and Ireena along with all the other various birth workers will be saved; and as well, doctors will most likely be released from their lawsuit fears in the process and be able to serve more freely without such fear themselves.

  • B.P.
    April 5, 2012

    I hope Ireena sues LaGrange county for denying her diabetic medicine. And maybe charge the particular jail guard also. Denying life- giving meds to an inmate with a life-threatening disease must be a crime.

    • SS RN
      April 5, 2012

      Well I find this comment to be incredibly ironic…”denying life-giving meds”. Tell me how is this different from Denying a baby from proper meds? I ask, have you been witness to one of these midwives bringing in a cold, blue baby in the back of a car not bothering to call paramedics because of the cost??? oxygen is a medication and this baby was definitely deprived of it!

      • Valerie Runes
        April 5, 2012

        “Tell me how is this different from Denying a baby from proper meds?”

        Ok. How about this? It is different because you are taking one specific incident involving the alleged mistreatment of one specific midwife (Ireena’s mistreatment in jail), and trying to compare it to a general statement about poor treatment provided by “one of these midwives…in the back of a car.” Quid pro quo doesn’t work that way. Or to put it more simply, the suggestion that some midwife somewhere may have provided poor care to a baby does not justify the poor treatment of *this* midwife at *this* time in *this* situation.

        That is how it is different.

      • Mamaz
        April 6, 2012

        Plus the AAP even states room air to be safer and best for a baby so just because a midwife may not carry or choose to use oxygen does not mean the babe is being denied what is best. Most midwives I know will still use a resuscitator bag and mask w room air IF resus is needed. And as for transporting—often transporting in the back of a car is faster/more expedient than waiting for EMTs who often have little to poor Neonatal experience and training to arrive and then transport. A midwife I know in Amish country in PA knew it faster to transport the 30 min to hospital in her car than wait 20-25 min or more for an ambulance that usually did not staff a paramedic to arrive and then transport. She would offer her expert care to mom or baby while her asst drove quickly to the ER

      • Licensed Midwife
        April 18, 2012

        In a state where the midwife is not licensed, the midwife then does not have open and legal access to the medicine that you say the midwife deprived the baby. This is an argument for licensure of midwives, so they can legally obtain and administer the medicines that can save lives when the rare complications of childbirth occur.

        By not licensing midwives, the State establishes the environment that leads to dangerous practice. In my state, where I am licensed, I carry pitocin and cytotec to manage postpartum bleeding or retained placentas, IVs to prevent or manage shock or fetal compromise, O2 and respirator for newborn resuscitation — all there for safety, though rarely used. I offer antibiotics and treat GBS.

        More importantly, licensure affords the status needed for quality collaborative relationships and coordination of transfer of care in a timely and secure fashion, reducing adverse outcomes related to lack of communication or fear by the midwife of legal persecution upon transfer. Non-licensure and midwife arrests is akin to the witch hunts of women healers in the Middle Ages and the 1910 MD-orchestrated campaign to annialate the midwife, even as public health evidence of the day showed superior outcomes by midwives.

  • Davina
    April 7, 2012

    Wow! This is so scary and sad.

    It’s a perfect example why I’m glad I ended up in New Zealand before having my baby. New Zealand, where every woman has a midwife to support her through her pregnancy, home births are normal and when emergencies do happen, like it did with us- we were in the hospital for 5 weeks after an emergency c-section- our hospital costs where completely covered.

    Oh America. . . you have lost your way.

  • Pat
    April 13, 2012

    After 3 extremely rapid births, the last being close to in the parking lot at the birth center, I chose to birth my 4th baby at home. I was attended by 2 great midwives, both CNM’s. The one who was trained @ Harvard wrote the guidelines for safe, planned home birth. They have been published, and are available to physicians as well as midwives. Standards established by the guidelines include mother’s health, age, distance to hospital for transport, availability of ambulance services, prior birth outcomes, etc. It is very inclusive. I was monitored closely the entire time by the CNM’s, same as by an OB. It was my healthiest birth and healthiest infant. I had little bleeding and healed quickly. We had pre-notified ambulance transport of EDC and had our address verified with them. This was all before the 911 system had been implemented in our area. I was finally grateful that I didn’t need to worry about dropping my child in the car, along the side of a highway somewhere! The CNM’s, Saraswathi Vedam and Sandy Countryman, even had me consult with an OB prior to approving home birth, to insure complete understanding of what actions would be taken in the event of an emergency.
    What I am trying to say is that home birth can be the safest option in some circumstances. In other circumstances, it is not. If you desire a home birth, please find a CNM who follows the published guidelines (from the 1990′s, I believe.) There are good and bad CNM’s, just as there are good and bad OB’s. My husband is a physician, my mother is a CRNA, and both have told me numerous horror stories about MD’s. That does not implicate all MD’s any more than one bad CNM implicates all CNM’s. I support good CNM’s as much as I support good OB’s. All good LICENSED professionals follow guidelines in assisting their patients in making wise, educated choices mutually beneficial to mother and baby.
    I cannot comment at this time about Professional Midwives or lay midwives, as this was not my choice nor has it been my experience.

  • Serenity
    April 13, 2012

    AND by Supreme Court edict recently, Ireena Keeslar could have been LEGALLY strip-searched upon arrest. I thought we were in the 21st century — when medical costs are a consideration in treatment and when hospital-induced infections are killing thousands each year.
    Comparatively, a home-birth seems a prudent direction for parents to take.

  • joyce
    April 16, 2012

    how can someone practice something “professionally” if that thing is illegal? it’s like saying someone is a professional seller of kidneys on the black market. that “professional” cannot expect to be taken seriously by the community at large…even if there is a need for their goods/services.

    if you are knowingly practicing an illegal activity, then you must be ready to face the consequences. if you want your activity to no longer be illegal, then be prepared to fight for your cause legislatively or move to a state where that activity is legal.

  • Ellen
    April 28, 2012

    39 years ago I had a doctor in a hospital in Tennessee decide that he had a golfing date and gave me medication to go ahead and have the baby. It was a rough one, but people don’t seem to want to hear about it.

  • kristi
    May 31, 2012

    she was actually arrested on grounds of malpractice. she had a baby die and would have had another the next day if she wasn’t arrested. i believe in midwifery , delivered all three of my children that way but she was wrong in not seeking medical attention when things started to go wrong!!!!!!!!!

  • Sonya
    June 8, 2012

    You always have a CHOICE to give birth at home…with a certified, properly educated midwife. NOT just anybody that will put your baby’s life at increased risk.

  • [...] “Shittiana,” but I wouldn’t go that far. It does make me prickle that it is illegal for a certified midwife to practice there, but my husband and I actually considered moving to a little town called [...]

  • Erin
    March 27, 2013

    This is utterly outrageous. It is unbelievable that women do not have the choice to choose home birth in Indiana. These practising midwives, no matter what their qualifications, have seen hundreds of home births and I would totally trust any of them to be with me when I delivered a child. I am shocked and disgusted at the chokehold the medical industry has on childbirth. MY BIRTH, MY CHOICE!!!!!!

  • james
    April 26, 2013

    Support Carol Velasquez. Another midwife being prosecuted by Indiana

  • […] apprentice trained midwives, some states do not. (To read about Ireena Keeslar’s story click here.) Maternity care needs to improve; let’s have a discussion about […]

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