One bad apple shouldn’t spoil it for the bunch, but that’s exactly what an advocacy group for midwives in New Mexico is worried about after a complicated home birth has resulted in felony charges against a midwife who was there for assistance.
Jessica Weed, 34, was charged with felony child abuse after a home birth that lead to the hospitalization of the mom and baby, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
A Bernalillo County sheriff’s detective wrote in the criminal complaint that the breech birth on Aug. 28 resulted in the baby suffering from bleeding on the brain and retinal bleeding.
Kristin Hamm, the baby’s mother, was also admitted to the hospital the same day she gave birth to undergo surgery to remove portions of the placenta that became toxic after not emerging during the birth process.
An investigator said that Weed told him she “observed swelling on the baby’s head but believed it could be normal,” although she said she advised Himm to go to the hospital the night of the birth. For her part, Himm said she was “unaware of the hazards of retaining placenta and that Weed had not suggested hospital treatment.”
Weed posted a $5,000 bond and was released from jail over the weekend. In addition to child abuse, she is accused of felony intimidation of a witness for “urging Himm and others to conceal [her] involvement in the home birth from medical personnel” by asking her to write and sign a letter saying Weed was not present and the birth had been unassisted.
The New Mexico Midwives Association is arguing that Weed shouldn’t have been charged, that she is a licensed health care provider and they are afforded regulation under civil law, which means they are rarely criminally prosecuted. Part of the organization’s concern, too, is that there is a maternity care shortage in the state and the arrest will only help worsen the situation.
“If we used criminal law to hold health care providers responsible for their patients’ outcomes, our prison system would be overwhelmed,” a spokeswoman for the association said in a statement.
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