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Midwifery On Trial In Washington

This is a major turning point for women's rights in the US. This trial, and others involving midwives across the country, are attempting to set precedents that will continue to be used against midwives. The results of these proceedings will effect the right of all women to birth where and how they choose. This is not just about what's going on in Washington. This effects all of us: midwives, doulas, mamas, families, and anyone who is supportive of womens rights.

Due to pressure from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurance agencies, and obstetricians (mostly white males), many hospitals in the US no longer offer vaginal breech births. The only choice for a woman with a breech baby is a midwife-attended home birth or a c-section.
Shaheeda Pierce, LM, CPM, has been charged by the Dept of Health with "attempt of vaginal breech birth at home." A breech birth is when the baby's bottom end is coming first, rather than the head. It occurs in 3-4% of pregnancies. Shaheeda has had hands-on experience with the special maneuvers that may be needed to facilitate breech birth. The mother and child are fine.

The Dept's stated position is that Shaheeda should lose her license for this. Home breech birth is not prohibited in Washington by any statute or administrative rule. As breech birth is not prohibited, some midwives here have attended planned home breech births, while some have attended surprise breeches only. The parents had specifically sought referral to a midwife who was trained in home breech birth, as they preferred to decline a planned cesarean. Hospitals in the Seattle and Tacoma areas are no longer offering non-surgical breech birth. A Seattle obstetrician at Swedish Medical Center had complained in this case. The doctor who will be paid by the state to testify has said in his declaration that all breeches should be delivered surgically.

In this case, state officials had arrived unannounced to the midwife's door and demanded immediate access to all her clients' private health records, going back 5 years, which they wanted to photocopy and take back to Olympia. They had no warrant, just a letter from their boss. When Shaheeda refused, citing the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, she was told if she refused to give up all the records immediately, they would make trouble for her license. And they have.

Another midwife has just been formally charged for attending VBACs (Women who have had a previous c-section, and now choose to birth vaginally. This is also not illegal in Washington state). This prosecution is also based on the "expert" opinion of their consultant obstetrician.

Many midwives have faced investigation here in Washington by the Dept of Health, especially in the past few years. The cost of these investigations has basically bankrupted the Midwifery Dept here, which is required by law to have all of its costs born by the midwives. Due to the increase in midwife investigations, the Midwifery Dept has not balanced its budget for the past 5 years, despite a doubling of the midwife license fee to over a thousand dollars per year. The increase in number of investigations and cost of investigations coincides exactly with a dept decision to appoint nurse-investigators to handle all investigations against the midwives. Previous to this, investigations were handled by the Investigative Services Unit, and costs were kept to budget. The cost overruns are staggering. The upshot of this is that each licensed midwife is subsidizing a policy of nurse-investigators and staff attorneys being given a blank check to prosecute midwives, even if the dept has received no complaint. Midwives pay the prosecutor $250 per hour to prosecute them, and they pay $175 per hour to the obstetrician who assists with the prosecutions.

The Dept admits to 29 investigations in the past 2 1/2 years, 7 of these investigations generated by the dept itself and not based on any outside complaint. Several midwives have lost their licenses or given up their practices due to the political situation here, and the expense and stress of litigation. We are now down to approximately 90 licensed midwives in Washington, when the average has been about 110 midwives. 3 years ago we had 118 licensed midwives.2 schools continue to graduate more midwives each year, yet numbers are dwindling.


The first 3 days of the hearing were Sept 19-20-21 in Tumwater, WA just south of Olympia. The state has paid a doctor and a former Washington midwife to testify against home breech birth as an option for parents declining planned surgical birth in our area.

Because the prosecutor used over 1 days for her 4 witnesses, the trial is longer and more expensive. On our side, Dr Marsden Wagner, Shaheeda, and Holly Scholles have testified so far. Our lawyer, who specializes in licensing issues for health care professionals said that in his >30 years of practice, this is some of the best testimony he has ever heard on a case.

Nov 2 and 3, 2005 are scheduled as the final days of the hearing. See location below. The judge acknowledges our need to have a large hearing space to accommodate community members, and he has welcomed the babies.

Testifying in favor of Shaheeda' license and non-surgical birth options are: the parents involved in the case (mom and baby fine), other clients who have had breech babies, 7 midwives from Washington, Ina May Gaskin, Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Mary Cronk, Mabel Dzata, Anne Frye, Holly Scholles, Alison Osborn, Dr. Marsden Wagner, Dr. James Shuffield, Caroline Peterson of ICAN, Ken Johnson, Betty-Anne Daviss, and others.

A local fundraiser was done, which raised over $10,000, with a significant amount from local doctors and nurses. Midwives raised $1249 at the recent Midwives Alliance of North America conference. Approximately $1700 more has been donated since then. Legal expenses in this case are $31,500 so far, with 2 days more of court to go.

Please send prayers, moral support, and donations for legal expenses as we endeavor to hold the door open for normal birth and traditional and holistic midwifery practices. Please request the Dept of Health to drop the case. If the case continues, your attendance at the hearing is requested. Attending this hearing is like attending a midwifery conference on breech birth! Call Timia 206-817-5039 for carpooling. Call Fatima 253-921-5475 for housing if attending the hearing. Call Martha if you need childcare on Vashon Island to attend the hearing 206-463-0508.


Hearing location:
Nov 2 and 3, 2005, 9 am start time
Dept of Health Bldg
20435 72nd Ave South
Suite 200, Room #1
Kent, WA 98032
253-395-7731


You can email Shaheeda to be put on the list for updates, or you can check the website for changes: www.shaheedapierce.com

Send donations for legal defense fund to:
Shaheeda Pierce, LM, CPM
10307 SW Cemetery Rd
Vashon Island, WA 98070
206-463-6246
 shaheedapierce@hotmail.com


Please call, fax, or write immediately to the following individuals, and /or your local state legislators to request the charges be dropped, and for the Midwifery Dept to be audited for its misappropriation of funds and outrageous prosecution of midwives, for things that aren't illegal and where clients are satisfied with their midwives. You could request that people responsible for the Midwifery Dept be reassigned from their positions if they cannot balance the budget and follow the US Constitution, federal, and state laws and rules. It also makes no sense to have "nurse-investigators" in charge of investigations against midwives. Send copies to all, and to Shaheeda.

Offers of services, favorable press contacts, helpers, auction items, and legislative contacts greatly appreciated. The judge says he has learned a great deal about childbirth so far in this case, and he really likes Ina May Gaskin's and Rahima Baldwin Dancy's breech birth training videos! He appreciates it when we use the baby doll and pelvis to demonstrate baby positions and maneuvers.

Gov Christine Gregoire
Ph 360-902-4111 PO Box 40002
Fax: 360-753-4110 Olympia, WA 98504

Prosecutor Alice Blado
Ph 360-753-6200 PO Box 40109
Fax 360-586-3564 Olympia, WA 98504

Mary Selecky, Secretary of Health
Ph 360-236-4010 PO Box 47890
Fax 360-586-7424 Olympia, WA 98504

Kendra Pitzler, Manager, Midwifery Dept
Ph 360-236-4723 1300 SE Quince St
Fax 360-236-4738 Olympia, WA 98504

Bonnie King, Health Prof Quality Assurance
Ph 360-236-4995 email:  Bonnie.King@DOH.WA.GOV
Fax 360-236-4626

Brian Sonntag, State Auditor If asking for audit of Midwifery Dept)
Ph 866-902-0360 PO Box 40021
Fax 360-664-0157 Olympia, WA 98504


The state website for directory of other state employee contacts is:
www.fortress.wa.gov

homepage: homepage: http://www.shaheedapierce.com
phone: phone: (503) 254-5467

On a side note 01.Nov.2005 05:51

acupuncture info

Acupuncture can help with breech births. Even a couple months before term, acupuncture is used in China and elsewhere, including the U.S., to turn a baby inside the womb. Hard to believe, I know.

Like midwifery, this approach should only be practiced by professionals trained in this work. It is a standard course in all Acupuncture programs, but it is still of course most adviseable to work only with people who have experience with these methods.

Please come to support Shaheeda at the Trial Tomorrow! 01.Nov.2005 14:57

Jacqueline Lynch djodha22@ecomail.org

Please spread the word about this situation to anyone you know who is interested in women's rights and women's health issues! There is a group of student midwives who will be going up to Tacoma, WA tomorrow morning to bear witness to the trial, and to support Shaheeda in this process. If anyone is interested in joining us, please let me know!


very strange 01.Nov.2005 22:49

mom

32 years ago I had a breech birth baby. He was born in a hospital... midwifery not having been revived as it has today. I was very unhappy that the stand in doc --- mine was gone taking a daughter to school out of state... forced me to have "gas" moments before the birth which made me very unhappy as I did not want anything ... but he didn't tell me that I had to have a c section... My son was and is of course very healthy and I had other children. Why in the world are they saying no vaginal deliveries? I don't understand this at all.
Can someone tell me their rationale?

Let us know 02.Nov.2005 09:39

Working Class Mama

I have to work today(well, technically I'm on call, but means I can't go far), but I will be there in spirit. Let us know how it goes and please keep us updated! I'm so glad this story is here!

I had an amazing experience giving birth to my son and it wouldn't have been possible without our wonderful midwife. I gave birth in a watertub, in a comfortable house, and our midwife coached my partner through what would normally be her job. She just let us do it(with a few exceptions). It was so magical and empowering. It felt totally right, like the whole process just made more sense that way. I'm so glad that I had that opportunity and I would love for other women to have this opportunity as well. I've seen a few hospital births and it was sad and disturbing to me to see babies, mothers, and partners treated like that. I would never want to birth that way under any circumstances, least of all with a high risk pregnancy.

To answer the question about why hospitals don't like vaginal births(mind you I'm no expert on the subject but I have an opinion)... I think it probably takes up more of their time and bed space to birth vaginally. In the hospital they seem to be in a big hurry to get you to push it out. I actually heard a doctor(actually a hospital appointed midwife, which as far as I can see bears no resemblance to a real midwife) say right in the most beautiful and intense moment of this woman's birth(the baby's head was coming out), "Oh yeah, this should be out real soon, then I'll come join you for lunch. What, oh yeah we should go check out that deli on...". It broke the spell. It was like this was just another birthing woman on the hospital conveyer belt. My midwife had been birthing children for over 17 yrs and she was very much emotionally swept up in the moment with us, but most of her work was not done in a hospital. Vaginal births can take hours of a doctor's precious day. But c-sections are quick and some doctors even go so far as to think they're safer(a selfish delusion). The other major problem is even if a doctor is alright, the hospitals' insurance and corporate figure heads probably don't like the risky business of lengthy, high risk, vaginal births. I say this because hospitals have rules that go above a doctor's judgement like not allowing vaginal breech births, for example. Then there's added issues of the long legacy of sexism. Like the idea that birthing positions and everything else should be dictated by whatever is most convenient for the doctor and not the birthing woman. The idea that birthing is a medical procedure, as if it is not something our bodies are meant to do. But I could go on and on like this and I have to get my son to school... :)

natural 02.Nov.2005 19:04

vs surgical

i too gave birth to a vaginal breech birth daughter 31 years ago
at the time, i was on DSHS and was not "attended" well at Overlake Hospital.
by the time they finally checked on me, her feet were sticking out and they
went into a panic

i'll never forget being asked to "hold still" for an xray to determine if C-section would be required while I was beginning to give birth - i think i expended a rather loud "No fucking way"

after that i was rushed into delivery and it was too late for anything except the natural birth process 2 minutes later

seems DSHS is always at the root of some mischief
i would liken them to "protection collectors" for a gangster health industry so far out of control and so out of tune with the real Nature of Life

you have my support and i will be calling on your behalf tomorrow to the governor, prosecutor, etc....all women except for the auditor...they should be ashamed

A quick update from WA 03.Nov.2005 21:27

jacqueline djodha22@ecomail.org

Just a quick update on Shaheeda Pierce's trial...

Myself and three other student midwives (including Shaheeda's apprentice) left Portland early Tuesday morning for Tacoma. The testimony began at 9am and continued all day. We had many wonderful witnesses on our side, all of whom spoke eloquently and intelligently on the subject of breech birth. At one point early in the day, Shaheeda's lawyer presented a set of statistics on out of hospital breech births for WA state. The Department of Health's Attourney objected to them, because it wasn't clear to her where they were from and therefore not reliable or accurate. Well, it turns out that the stats were compiled by Patricia Starszec, who works for the Department of Health's Center for Health Statistics!

We heard from several WA midwives, who all had significant experience in the normal, out-of-hospital birth of breech babies. They talked alot about the standard safety procedures midwives use, and how they make their decisions on when to consult with a physician and when to transfer care to a hospital. One point that came up over and over again: this is an issue of women's choice, and the right of all women to choose how and where they birth their babies, and what care they choose to accept or decline.

Towards the end of the afternoon, Ida Derradh testified. She is the Director of Testing for NARM, the organization that developed and administers the examination used to license midwives in WA. (This exam and certification process is used in OR and many other states as well.) She stated that there are several test questions related to breech presentation and facilitating breech births, because it is considered a "Core Compentency" for midwives, i.e. something that ALL midwives MUST know how to do in order to become licensed. She very clearly said that breech presentation was simply a variation of normal birth, and that it was very clearly within the scope of practice of midwifery care.

Nowhere in NARM policy does is say that midwives should not attend breech births at home. Nowhere in Washington state statutes or law does it say that midwives should not attend breech births out-of-hospital. NOWHERE.

The final person to testify on Tuesday was the father of the baby whose birth Shaheeda attended. He spoke so beautifully about his, and his wife's beliefs about birth, and about their struggle to find anyone who could offer them any other choice besides surgery when they learned that their baby was breech. How frustrating, at SEVEN MONTHS pregnant, to find yourself searching for a doctor who will take you on as a client, and finding door after door closed on you because your baby's breech and the only option they'll consider is cesarean section!

In the end, I think the day went really well for us. The judge was very understanding and respectful of everyone who testified. He really seemed to take the whole proceeding seriously, and considered his words and actions thoughtfully. On several occasions, the prosecution just didn't really have anything to say! (and how could they, really?) Today was the final day of testimony for the trial. My fellow students and I had to return to Portland for class, so we weren't able to be there today. I will write more as soon as I hear from those who were there.

In the meantime, please keep checking Shaheeda's website, and please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she goes through this difficult time.

Midwives under attack 04.Nov.2005 06:45

pix

25 years ago, after a lovely birth with my midwife, she went on to attend another birth, where the parents refused her advice to call an ambulence and get the mom to the hospital. The mom eventually died, that evening, after the birth of complications.

But they, the parents made the decision not to seek more medical treatment. The district attorney prosecuted the midwife for murder. Parents know they are taking certain risks by birthing at home, and certain other risks by birthing in a hospital. But DA's love to go after midwives and make examples of them, if they can.

It really boils down to being able to maintain control over our actions, and our bodies. Try doing that in a hospital, it's tough.

Hang in there, and keep the faith. Homebirth is a lovely, ancient and completely natural way to go. Death is also natural and not all humans survive birth. Unfortunately, death has been criminalized in our society, as it effectively ends the consumer/product cycle for good.

Healthy choices are being taken away from us as we sleep..... 07.Nov.2005 17:56

Lyman islanderxo@juno.com

Internationally there is an attack against you and I making personal choices concerning our health and our children. Shaheeda's experience is being mirrored across our country, Canada, and Australia as I have heard and witnessed through personal contacts, during the last 2 years.

Corporate/governmental operatives are funding attacks against traditional medicine as practiced by midwives, naturopaths and herbalists. As in Shaheeda's case they use your own tax dollars against you. The profit motive and greed are fast becoming the international epidemic. We are losing our choices politically and legaly to live our lives in the ways that we choose, and in a good way.

Please find ways to suport the warriors in your community, like Shaheeda Pierce, who are fighting for us and our children. At least, spread the word. It is easier when we battle together.

All my relations.

How may I help today, Shaheeda? 07.Nov.2005 21:30

Gita Barkat

What may I do, who may I call today to help you in your present situation, and for support of Midwives worldwide ? Calls, emails, funds? (Tuesday Nov. 8th.)

Both my children were lovely home births with wonderful midwives. Too few women have this opportunity today.

Thank you for your support! 07.Nov.2005 22:42

Jacqueline djodha22@ecomail.org

Thank you for your kind words, Gita. Please check out Shaheeda's website at www.shaheedapierce.com there are addresses for political figures your can write to, as well as Shaheeda's address for sending a dontation if you can. Every little bit helps and is so appreciated!!

The testimony in Shaheeda's case is completed now. We are awaiting the judge's decision. Keep her in your prayers, and spread the word to as many people as you can!

Thank you!


Use caution 08.Nov.2005 01:49

Washington midwife

Thank you so much for all of your personal stories and support of midwives. I am sure this midwife and others are heartened by your responses, by your caring, and by your appreciation for the way midwives have touched your lives.
I want to thank you all as well as be the voice of caution here...remember there are more than two sides to every story. As you give your generous and love-filled support for midwifery, and honor your birth experiences, remember that ideally every midwife and every woman go into birth with an agreement, a conscious, informed choice. What is being discussed with this case in Washington is not a woman's right to choose a breech birth but how to protect her right by ensuring she received the benefit of a full informed consent, in her own language, and the benefit of a practitioner of the art who will protect the safety of mother and baby. The question is not "did the midwife assist a breech birth out of hospital", but did the midwife use prudent decision making and provide full informed consent? Did she fulfill her obligation by law to consult with an MD? Did she adequately inform the mother in her own language about the risks/benefits of vaginal breech birth? Did she appropriately consult and transfer in a timely manner when it was clear that the baby was not coming? Did she act unprofessionally by not acting as a "reasonably prudent midwife" would act, and did she create an undue risk of harm if not actually harm a mother or baby?
I am not alone in Washington in feeling disturbed by this case as a midwife. While I want to help protect a woman's right to choose her place of birth and her attendant, and I don't agree with the state's claim that this midwife was "outside her scope" by attending a breech birth, I am also not willing to say that absolutely EVERY breech birth should be attended out of hospital--especially if it is unclear to the mother exactly what the risks of breech birth are, what the midwife's training and experience consists of, and when it is appropriate to seek medical attention.
I look forward to the hearing about the outcome of the case and hope that this midwife receives the benefit of a fair proceeding. Thank goodness the mother and child were not harmed.

Who's language are we speaking 08.Nov.2005 07:44

Ma Bear Soto

Western medical language isn't the same as language spoken by some midwives and women in general. Once again, we are told that our bodies are dysfunctional, therefore, they don't have the ability to birth normally right? After all, the medical establishment knows more than women about their own bodies, am I correct? Of course not. In my language, my body does work. I can give birth normally and naturally; even after my first birth, a still birth in the hospital (with a doctor), followed by an unnecessary C-section (with another doctor) who sytematically removed one of my ovaries and half of the other and told me I couldn't conceive again. I did conceive again. I gave birth successfully 3 times at home with Shaheeda. After the doctors told me, in their language, I was unable to conceive and birth again, Shaheeda spoke to me as a woman, a mother, a breastfeeder, and a midwife in a language I do understand.
What is important for all to know is SHE is well aware of all the criteria mentioned in the posting before this from the Washington Midwife. If she had consulted with an MD, as it was summerized on Nov. 2nd, the only answer an MD would offer is surgery. Shaheeda is not just a fly by your pants midwife. Her training is extensive and to make assumptions that she didn't follow the necessary steps to ensure maternal and fetal safety is an insult. I still feel we are overridden with patriarchal fear of our own power and I still wonder about men who practice OB/GYN... How many times have they given birth through their pee pee hole? None... Of course it was explained clearly in the mother's language what the risks were. Her husband is fluent in the language the mother speaks. How insulting to assume the mother didn't get all the information needed to make a well informed decision. Obviously there are reasons to transport when it is necessary, however a Midwife well trained in her field would know if and when the time is right. Of course thank Goddess mother and baby are fine, Shaheeda is guided by the Goddess.

reply to use caution 09.Nov.2005 05:35

reflecting on vindictive motives and ill informed doctors

who is asking these questions? a doctor who had already consulted with the parents, they already had her opinion probably far more clearly expressed than could be said by anyone else. would that same doctor have to be in court if we complained to the state about her practice? what about that doctor's informed consent? does it spell out the dangers to future pregnancies , increased risk of uterine rupture, fetal demise, death, hysterectomy, increased risk of placenta acreta, pancreata,. the potential for forced further surgeries- as in no vbac policies adopted by many careprovieders, not to mention the actual threats and dangers of the c-section proposed by the doctor for the health of mother and baby in the current pregnancy.
If there were anyone competent and knowledgeable investigating this case to begin with there would be no case, parent's informed choice and clearly a second and 3 opinion was sought and had by the parents themselves-

I have a few questions , like how many trials and investigations can licensed midwifery withstand in Washington state before licensed midwifery becomes bankrupt ? if midwives cannot afford to become licensed in the state what will happen to midwifery in general ? so we have some idea of what Shaheeda's costs are what are the states costs to date? What impact will this have for birthing women in the state of Washington? What would happen the the famed Seattle school ?
caution should be taken here but on what front--

Language 10.Nov.2005 21:05

Sweet Soul Sista

If language barrier is Washingtn Midwife's concern, then would a doctor be able to convey informed consent to a family from another country, clearly and succinctly in their language of the benefits/risks of breech birth by C-section? Would the benefits/risks of home birth be inclusive to his information he is conveying? Or will he practice medical paternalism by insiting that all breeches should be born in the hospital via c-section? Autonomy was at play in this family's search for a midwife that would afford them the opportunity to attempt to birth their baby at home. Their decision was based on research and study. Just because someone speaks a different language doesn't mean they don't understand english.

If anyone else has questions in regards to the midwife's decisions in this situation, why not ask her directly? That seems like the respectful and honorable way to get the answers you seek. Respect is the key.

to the midwife in washington 11.Nov.2005 19:08

reading the law

the law on informed consent in Washington as it pertains to midwives and other professionals monitored by the health dept
RCW 7.70.060
Consent form -- Contents -- Prima facie evidence -- Failure to use.
If a patient while legally competent, or his representative if he is not competent, signs a consent form which sets forth the following, the signed consent form shall constitute prima facie evidence that the patient gave his informed consent to the treatment administered and the patient has the burden of rebutting this by a preponderance of the evidence:

(1) A description, in language the patient could reasonably be expected to understand, of:

(a) The nature and character of the proposed treatment;

(b) The anticipated results of the proposed treatment;

(c) The recognized possible alternative forms of treatment; and

(d) The recognized serious possible risks, complications, and anticipated benefits involved in the treatment and in the recognized possible alternative forms of treatment, including nontreatment;

(2) Or as an alternative, a statement that the patient elects not to be informed of the elements set forth in subsection (1) of this section.

Failure to use a form shall not be admissible as evidence of failure to obtain informed consent.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-- a signed consent form was part of the medical record in this case and seen by investigators , no need to proceed on these grounds -----
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
point #2 you say under legal obligation to consult a physician in this case---
RCW 18.50.108
Written plan for consultation, emergency transfer, and transport.
Every licensed midwife shall develop a written plan for consultation with other health care providers, emergency transfer, transport of an infant to a newborn nursery or neonatal intensive care nursery, and transport of a woman to an appropriate obstetrical department or patient care area. The written plan shall be submitted annually together with the license renewal fee to the department.
-------------------------So only if her practice protocols included, a physician consult for complete breech birth---------------, this too would have been very simple to check out and transfer occurred appropriately .........


 link to www.leg.wa.gov

-------thank you for thanking me ---
and when you are the midwife on trial - look and see who will stand beside you and who is standing away-

successful vaginal breech delivery 12.Nov.2005 20:16

dj

I gave birth 5 years ago to my son in a hospital. His frank-breech presentation was a surprise upon arrival, and I had to FIGHT with the hospital staff for a vaginal delivery. When I did not sign their consent form for a C-Section, they continued to send a new nurse or doctor every hour for 22 hours straight to try to change my mind. After a full day and night of laboring, I pushed my baby out vaginally (without drugs), and proved that it can be done! He was my FIRST BABY and weighed OVER eight pounds. We had no complications, and my son has always been advanced beyond his age in physical and mental development. My second and third babies were delivered with the help of midwives. I wish I had done it that way the first time!

from a midwife 15.Nov.2005 11:51

midwife

So glad to live and practice in Oregon, where midwives can legally attend breech births.

Yesterday morning I caught an 11lb 6oz baby boy - born breech - at home.

Washington state midwifery is turning into a shameful shadow of what midwifery is really about. I am sad for the midwives there - but even sadder for the families.

midwifery model of care vs. medical model of care 15.Nov.2005 13:37

WA midwifery consumer

In relation to childbirth, there is a midwifery model of care and a medical model of care. The two differ in "standard of care" or "standard of practice" and in what is considered normal. The midwifery model of care has statistics that out-compete the medical model of care, yet we have a medicine-centered society so ninety percent of pregnant women in Washington State choose and are comfortable with a medical care provider for their prenatal, birth, and postnatal care. The problem is that midwifery in WA state is being systematically targeted and damaged so that the ten percent of consumers who consciously choose midwifery care see their options dwindling for assistance in childbirth.
In Ms. Pierce's case, and in another recent case with which I am familiar, I see the prosecution being based on definitions of "normal" and deviations from "standard of care". With two different valid models of care it is inevitable that one model will fail to meet the other's "standard of care". For example, many iatrogenic complications could be said to be the result of a medical doctor or nurse deviating from a midwifery standard of care. Additionally, these cases do not acknowledge that the pregnant or parturient women are also players in the outcome. Women, as citizens and managers of themselves and their children, have the right to decline certain treatments or procedures. Yet the Statements of Charges in the two cases I have read are written as though a childbirth care provider should have control over their clients' decisions.
Since there is an unusually high number of investigations, I assume they are not all warranted and assume these two cases are representative of a majority of the other investigations. So, this leaves me with some doubt in the licensing system and the fact that a midwife has lost her license may not deter me from seeking her services. In fact, I may choose a midwife that chooses to go against the system because then she will not, out of fear, pressure me to do what her consulting doctor says so she won't get in trouble. If women can't trust the system then it no longer serves them. Food for thought.

Washington Midwifery Consumer group to start 19.Nov.2005 17:28

WA midwifery consumer avander_k@yahoo.com

I have started a yahoogroup "Washington State Midwifery Consumers" to serve as a brainstorming forum that will lead to the formation of a midwifery consumer group for the state of Washington ("Washington Midwifery Consumers"). The group doesn't yet show up in the yahoogroups directory, but there is a direct link:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/washingtonmidwiferyconsumers
Interested people may have to create a yahoo ID to join. I have a format in mind that I think will allow groups to start meeting rather quickly.


Thanks to Shaheeda and All Midwives 08.Dec.2005 12:02

Another Breech-At-Home Mama shannonkfloyd@yahoo.com

When my daughter's father brought me a copy of the article about Shaheeda Pierce's last day of trial testimony, I read it and immediately began to cry. The story of Upel and Jordan's journey to a home breech birth was so like my own. I too spent the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy frantically searching for an alternative to a surgical birth, first for a hospital delivery and then, when it became apparent that that was not going to happen, for a home birth.

I, too tried moxy, the slant board, reading to baby by the pelvic bone, acupuncture, and herbs to try to get baby to flip. None of it worked. And I, too, finally found willing midwives to help me birth my breech baby at home. I am so grateful for their help and also the amazing presence of my doula, now a midwife herself. I am also grateful to my daughter's father, who supported my decision and supported our birth. And I am grateful for the hospital care I received when my placenta didn't come. (I wrote an article about my experience which can be read here:  http://www.alternativesmagazine.com/26/floyd.html.)

I hope that Shaheeda is fully cleared and that the harassment of natural birthing and healing processes is eventually found to be counterproductive, because it only stirs up more interest and support for these important human rights.

What's the update? 17.Feb.2006 14:25

ValerieMonterrey vmonterrey@yahoo.com

I am interested in the update. I haven't heard any thing since Dec. It is now Feb.
Praying for you and Midwifery.
Valerie

Status? 23.Feb.2006 12:47

earthlovinmama melissa@mamasmilkshop.com

I keep checking in for an update on Shaheeda, but can't find anything. Wasn't the judge supposed to make his ruling around the first of the year? Does anyone know???


Shaheeda Pierce 10.Nov.2006 22:34

Emily Parks

Shaheeda was just found guilty in the death of my friend's child for failure to transport and violation of midwifery standards. and as good as a midwife she may be, that is still no excuse for all the grief that this caused a young first time mother. i would not expect to see shaheeda retaining a license for much longer, hopefully, so that this will never happen to anyone again.

Wow 10.Nov.2006 22:37

Emily Parks

Additionally, the breech birth that Shaheeda attempted was a footling breech, and that baby had it's umbilical cord wrapped twice around it's neck. Look it up online, the documents are out there. she's just lucky that no one was killed. sometimes there is an okay time to call for additional help, which she failed to do.