Midwife Katie McCall Didn’t Take A Plea
On August 17th, 2011 I was convicted of practicing medicine without a license for a 2007 birth I assisted while enrolled in midwifery school. I was arrested, charged, tried and convicted while holding the midwifery license in good standing that I subsequently had been granted and while having no complaints issued against me as a licensed professional. I have never lost a baby or harmed anyone while serving birthing families and have no prior criminal record.
The charge arose from a home birth I attended where my supervising midwife could not arrive because she was at another birth… two babies sometimes arrive at once. Instead of leaving the family to birth unassisted, I stayed because they wished me to. I suggested that the family transfer to the hospital since the supervising midwife was unavailable and the family refused to go. At no time did I ever misrepresent myself as anything but a student midwife who required a supervising midwife to attend the birth so I could have my clinical hours properly signed off for school. The complaint filed against me wasn’t even submitted to the CA Medical Board by the family who chose to birth at home, but by an acupuncturist who was there to provide pain relief who had never even attended a birth other than her own.
When the mother began to push, the baby got stuck in a condition called shoulder dystocia– a serious and often fatal complication. Using my training as a student, I performed the Gaskin maneuver to free the baby. The maneuver was successful, however–like lightening striking twice–the mother began to hemorrhage due to a partially retained placenta. Again, using my training, I was able to stop the bleeding and protect the mother from harm. At trial, I argued through counsel that my practicing medicine was justified due to the emergency situations that had ensued.
After my arrest (which was three and a half years after the birth and also after the Medical Board had granted me my license), I was offered a plea of either misdemeanor theft (for being paid $200 by the family to be available for their birthing month) or misdemeanor battery for performing the procedures that saved the baby and mother’s lives. I took neither and requested a fair trial.
Despite testimony from the Assistant Director of one of the largest Emergency Departments in Los Angeles and a renowned OB/GYN that my actions potentially saved two lives, a jury convicted me of one felony count of practicing medicine without a license at trial. Hundreds of letters were written in my defense and the judge remarked that he had never seen so many people show support to a convicted criminal in his court room.
On September 16, 2011 the judge sentenced me to 3 years formal probation (where I must check in routinely and cannot leave the county of Los Angeles) and told me I cannot work as a midwife during that time. I was ordered to perform 280 hours of community service and pay $10,000 in restitution to the CA Medical Board (my only “victim”), which was down from the nearly $45,000 they were asking for to cover their investigative costs. It appears they thought they had uncovered an unlicensed medical practice and spent thousands of dollars looking for it… but in the end, they only found me and this one individual birth.
I am currently eight months into my probation and completed all of my community service hours by the end of the second month. The judge has stated he will likely remove some of my restrictions in January 2013 if I can come up with the restitution.
An appeal was filed on my behalf this week. I am anxiously awaiting it’s result, but know that appeals take a LONG time.
In the meantime, the Medical Board is trying me a second time on June 6, 2012, in an Administrative Court to help them decide if they will revoke my medical license… something the Attorney General’s office says is their ultimate goal. For more information you can follow my story here: www.supportmidwifekatiemccall.wordpress.com