Chesterton Tribune

 

 

State alleges that unborn baby in care of unlicensed Chesterton midwife died

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A Chesterton woman is under a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting her from practicing midwifery, after an unborn child in her care died in May and its mother faced life-threatening complications, according to a motion for an emergency TRO filed on June 27 by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

Julie Lentz, doing business as Sacred Lotus Midwifery Services, was issued the TRO on June 28 by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper.

“Lentz acted as a midwife for a home birth that experienced complications, resulting in the death of the unborn child and life-threatening health complications for the mother,” the AG’s motion states. “Lentz currently does not hold the required license to practice midwifery in Indiana. Lentz is aware of Indiana’s licensing requirements for midwives, but asserts to consumers that she is exempt from these requirements. Lentz’s disregard for Indiana law in practicing without a license has caused irreparable harm to the families she works with as a midwife and continues to pose a danger to Indiana families. This is an emergency matter involving the health and safety of newborn children and their mothers.”

The AG’s motion alleges the following: Lentz contracted with a Valparaiso family in February to act as midwife at the expecting mother’s home birth, at which time the mother “discontinued seeing other doctors, leaving Lentz as her only provider of healthcare”; on April 22, six days before the due date, the mother experienced what Lentz identified as a leak of amniotic fluid and over the next five days she began having periodic contractions; on May 1, the mother complained of a “burning sensation inside her stomach” and elevated temperatures and at one point told her husband she wished to go to hospital for an epidural, but after overhearing that conversation Lentz “talked the mother out of going to the hospital.”

On May 2, the AG’s motion alleges, Lentz prescribed “some homeopathics” to reduce swelling of the cervix, which she said was preventing the baby’s birth, but at this point the mother decided to go to hospital. “After calling for the ambulance, Lentz told the mother to tell hospital staff her water broke within the previous 24 hours, even though it had partially broken 10 days prior and completely broke three days prior.” On her arrival at the hospital, the mother underwent an ultrasound, at which time it was determined that the baby had died.

Following a cesarean to remove the baby, the AG’s motion alleges, “the doctor told the mother that she was lucky to be alive and that she had one of the worst infections the doctor had seen in her 10 years of practice.”

In a separate four-count complaint, the AG’s Office alleges that Lentz possesses neither a certified nurse midwife license nor a certified direct entry midwife certificate, one or the other of which is required of midwifery practitioners in the State of Indiana. “Lentz knows of Indiana’s licensing and certification requirements but represents to consumers that she is not subject to these requirements.”

Specifically, the AG’s Office alleges, Lentz requires consumers who wish to use her services to sign a contract, in which she “acknowledges that she is not licensed by the State of Indiana.” Instead, in an attempt to “bypass” the state’s requirements, Lentz has consumers join her “Private Membership Association (PMA)” which--so states the contract-- “means that the midwife and all clients are private members and not a part of the public sector,” the AG’s Office alleges.

The PMA, which Lentz calls Dar a Luz, “contains multiple waivers or releases designed to exempt its members from being subject to governmental rules and regulations”: thus PMA members agree to “release from liability each and every local, municipal, city, county, state, and federal agent, employee, officer, official, or servant from enforcing upon them any public law, regulation, or rule administered or enforced by any governmental administrative agency in order to protect the public health.”

In 2018, the AG’s Office further states, Lentz sent an e-mail to the AG’s Medical Licensing Section, in which she advised that she is a “Traditional Midwife, services conducted in private homes; as a matter of common-law and constitutionally secured perfect right.” She added that, although she is aware of the state’ jurisdiction over hospitals and medical facilities, “such public laws do not apply to people acting in their private character and capacity, in the privacy of their own homes.”

The AG’s complaint accuses Lentz in particular of several violations of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, by engaging in the practice of midwifery without a required license, and by misrepresenting rights, remedies, and obligations; of a knowing violation of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act; and of incurable deceptive acts.

The AG’s Office is seeking a permanent enjoinment, forbidding Lentz from practicing midwifery without obtaining the necessary license or certification; and civil penalties totaling $5,500.

 

Posted 7/5/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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