5-11-11: Midwifery in Maryland
Karen Carr, a midwife based in Baltimore, pled guilty last week to two felonies in Virginia, child endangerment and performing an invasive procedure without a license. The charges stemmed from the death of a baby after a home birth she performed in Alexandria. According to prosecutors, the baby’s head was stuck in the birth canal for 20 minutes, and Carr tried to resuscitate him for 13 minutes before calling for emergency help.
Carr agreed to do the birth after a licensed birthing center in Virginia said they would not deliver the child because the baby was in the breech position. Breech babies (in which the fetus is feet-first) are usually delivered by Caesarean section, because the risk of complications is increased. Carr is to pay a $5,000 fine, and return the $3,200 fee she charged the boy’s parents. All but 5 days of her two 4-year sentences were suspended.
Karen Carr is a certified professional midwife, a certification which is recognized in 26 states, but not in Maryland. So, while it’s been reported that she was practicing without a license in Virginia, she’s also been practicing illegally in Maryland. Carr said she chose to pursue certification as a CPM, as opposed to certification as a nurse-midwife (recognized in all 50 states), because she wanted to practice outside of the medical system.
“I wanted to do it that way because I know people looking for home births want an unmedicalized birth,” said Carr. “They want their birth to be a family event. So I decided not to allow myself to be influenced in that way.”
Despite the lack of a license, the original charges against Carr—involuntary manslaughter and child abuse—sparked an outpouring of support, both verbal and financial, from some of the 1200 families whose babies she has delivered. She has been a midwife for 18 years, and specializes in delivering children at home.
In light of all this–we want to look at the practice of midwifery in Maryland. Karen Carr agreed to speak with us and answer questions not involving the Virginia case. We also speak with Erin Wright, a licensed nurse-midwife and the president of the Maryland affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives.
We also want to hear from you — what are your experiences with midwifery, or home birth? Let us know at 410-881-3162, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.