Midwife means “with woman”.

I am writing this with hands that are shaking in anger. I have received some news today that if I don’t write it down – the sheer force of my fury threatens to bust be like a balloon! Four years ago, midwife, Katie McCall was supporting a client in labor. At that time, Katie was a senior midwifery student, working as apprentice midwives do, under the supervision of a senior and licensed midwife. Katie was very close to getting her license, and before her apprentice ship had extensive birth knowledge as a doula and childbirth educator.

She received word that the senior midwife was unable to make it to the birth because of another labor. She informed the family that the senior midwife wouldn’t be coming – she recommended that they transfer to the hospital. The family refused.

Rather than leave the family alone – Katie stayed with them. As the mom began to push – a condition developed known as a shoulder dystocia – this is a situation where the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mom’s pelvic bone. This is a potentially life threatening situation unless you have someone present who knows how handle it. This family’s blessing was that Katie was there, and knew what to do. The baby was delivered and mom and child were fine, except for some tears to the mother’s perineum, which required a trip to the hospital for stitches.

So this midwife, the single mother of 2 young children, returned home that day – a life saver. There was no mention of this in the newspaper – no key to the city – no pat on the back from the community served. No. Except for the appreciation of her clients and love of her fellow midwives, Katie McCall went to her home and slept off her hard work.

Unfortunately one of the persons at the birth lodged a complaint with the medical board. And Katie was arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license! This is a felony offense!

Katie has had to endure so much and she has bravely persevered. She was offered the possibility to plea to a lesser charge – but she was offered a choice of misdemeanor theft or misdemeanor battery! Whom did she beat? From whom did she steal? Did you hear me say – that she SAVED the baby’s life! No she pushed forward and requested a trial.

Well, my sweet birth sister was convicted of the felony charge of practicing medicine without a license! And today – to the relief of herself, her children and the birth community who loves her – she was given 3 years’ probation. The medical board will revoke her license, which she received after the birth of this baby. Due to this charge she may never practice midwifery in this state again.

What sense does this make? What sort of state is this that punishes a person who saves a life? What should she have done? Walked away? If she had this infant would surely have died! But she didn’t; she stayed and showed herself to be a gifted midwife – she without having to resort to surgery – delivered that child safely. That baby will grow up, live, and love because Katie McCall was its midwife!

Midwife means “with woman” and that is literally what Katie did – she followed the scared rule of her profession and did not leave a birthing woman’s side.

Today I mourn for the state of the world. I mourn That there was someone in the birth room who so fears death that she would report this midwife! Didn’t she see the skill that was a part of what Katie did? Didn’t she realize that she had witnessed a blessing? No! To this person Katie’s action on behalf of this family was a crime and required punishment… The court emphasized that midwives need to be regulated because “people don’t have a good sense of what complications there may be”. What!? There was a complication, and she handled it!

Let me be clear – birth is not a thing to fear. Most healthy women who become pregnant have the right to expect that after their course of labor they will deliver a healthy child. True OB emergencies happen in approximately 1% of births. This family was indeed having one of those 1% experiences – however this isn’t typical or usual. And did I say that the midwife delivered the baby healthy and whole? I did say that, yes?

It is a time-honored tradition that midwives be trained under the supervision of an older and experienced midwife. Katie had many years of birth knowledge under her belt – but be that as it may, her senior midwife is to be commended in having given such excellent training to her apprentice. Training which saved the life of that baby, that momma…

It is my opinion that this case was even brought to trial in order to destroy a tradition. This trial now questions weather midwife apprentices can take a blood pressure or perform a pelvis exam – unless the supervising midwife is in the same room with her. The whole purpose of apprenticeship is to build up the confidence of the student who – after a period of observation – is allowed to work with clients’ one on one and alone. Of course with the senior midwife reviewing her charts and giving feedback every step of the way. The state of California would rather that women wishing to be midwives go to Nursing school and become nurse midwives. While that might be fine for some women, there are women who prefer to learn their art as their grandmothers and great grandmothers did – at the feet of a more experienced woman and heart to heart with women, babies and their families! They do not wish to be thought medicine – which would have needed to cut that baby out of its mother and thereby risking that mom’s life. No, such women wish to learn the maneuver Katie used, which though not very comfortable, is very successful and required the deft hands and lion’s heart of a midwife!

I am furious for this young midwife and I am furious for her client! Women’s reproductive rights ought to mean that this mom had the right to have her baby wherever – and with whatever practitioner – she chose. As a mother and as a woman she had the right not to go to the hospital – and the right to be delivered by a student midwife. She knew that Katie was an apprentice and she had full faith in her – so how does the state have the right to override that? This mom was absolute right to hold that faith!

Why does it seem that reproductive rights only apply when we are discussing the right to an abortion? Why are there not one thousand women with candles chanting on behalf of this brave young midwife, who has been forced to live with her children in one bedroom – and who is worried about how she will be able to live for the next 3 years while she is on probation?

My prayers are with Midwife Katie McCall and her family, and with all women – for if the State of California has the time, energy, and resources to still the hand of a faithful servant to women – no woman is secure.

If you would like to donate to her cause, please feel free to do so. As I said she is a single mother and had to pay thousands in fees and fines to the court. She also literally has to feed her children. Please send your donations via PayPal to info@supportmidwifekatiemccall.com. She and her family will be most appreciative. Thanks.

The previous post was written by me last September. The following is an update of Katie’s Situation. She is still in need of support and would appreciate your donations. Thank you!

Yesterday was an ugly day for the midwifery profession. Midwife Katie McCall – surrendered her license to deliver babies in this state. Why did this happen? Because when she was a senior apprentice – she made the decision to honor her client families desire for a home birth by not ordering them to the hospital, when her senior midwife was unable to joint he family for their labor.

Instead of abandoning this family, Katie stayed to support this family – there was a complication with the birth, which Katie corrected – thus saving the baby’s life! However – her actions were reported and she was arrested for the felony offense of practicing midwifery without a license!

She has endured the loss of income – freedom and now her profession.
This is the country we live in – save a life – stand for true reproductive choice – go to jail!

Personally – I say this… The day we are able to get 1000 women on the street to protest on behalf of midwifery – is the day I might be tempted to consider calling myself a feminist.

Reproductive choice means – or ought to mean, the right to have a child as well as not to .
And if one chooses to have a child – the right to birth where one wishes and with the caregiver of ones choice!

Stay strong Katie! It is my belief that God calls a midwife – not the patriarchy, nor the its henchmen/women! No one can EVER take from you what you are….

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