A brave rural midwife has courageously taken on AZDHS—and won!
Diane has worked as a midwife in rural Arizona for decades. She has served countless families and loved on more babies than I can count. Her rural community is about 30 minutes by car to the nearest basic medical facility and over 90 minutes to the closest higher level medical facility.
So when a woman whom this midwife had never met showed up at her clinic in labor and starting to push, Diane took her in.
Minutes before giving birth, the woman disclosed she was having twins. Diane helped the mother deliver both babies with no complications or harm. The mother and both babies turned out healthy and strong. Since everything about the labor and birth was perfect, the mother and father decided they did not want to make the 90 minute journey to the hospital where they were supposed to deliver. They stayed overnight at the clinic and, in the morning, Diane checked on them to make sure all was well before seeing them off.
Months went by before Diane was served with papers saying the AZDHS wanted to suspend her license for a year for assisting in the birth of twins and doing a postpartum visit.
Midwives have a statue that protects them in emergency situations. 36-752. Licensure; exceptions- “A person who has no prearranged agreement to provide delivery assistance, but who delivers a baby as a result of an emergency situation.” This situation falls perfectly under this statue. AZDHS disagrees.
Diane fought the claim in the OAH with our lawyer, Julie Gunnigle.
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is the lowest level in the court system. When a midwife is tried in these courts, it means nothing—because no matter how the judge rules, AZDHS can still do whatever it wants. They are under no obligation to follow what the judge says.
Not shockingly, the judge in the OAH ruled in the favor of AZDHS.
Diane and Julie immediately appealed. And earlier this spring, the judge ruled in her favor! She won! Read his judgement – Diane Judgement
The judge explained clearly that the statue does indeed cover her. Moreoever, the way the rule is framed around prohibited practice, the verbiage is such that midwives can resume care once a woman no longer has or develops a prohibited condition.
This is landmark! If this decision stands, then it means midwives like Wendi Cleckner and Sarah Butterfly will be cleared.
Diane is the first midwife to have gone through the first appeals process and we are proud of her success. It’s a win for the whole birth community.
Thank you Diane! Thank you Julie! You ladies have fought hard and won in a huge way!
This means mothers can keep their midwives once an issue has resolved. It covers conditions like hemorrhages, placenta previa, high blood pressure, and premature labor—many of which are often resolved during pregnancy through medication, therapy, or time.
As AZDHS reads the rules, once any of these conditions are diagnosed, the midwife has to terminate care and may not continue care even if, for example, the hemorrhage stops and the mother is stable. Or if the placenta moves (which happens approximately 30% of the time), or if blood pressure is controlled by drugs or herbs, or if premature labor is stopped by medication and the mother carries to term.
The story does not stop there, however. AZDHS did not like the judgement, because it favors midwives and offers such a clear interpretation of the rule. So, AZDHS appealed the case to an even higher court.
AZDHS seems to have an endless supply of resources to fund this ongoing legal battle.
Oh wait! They are using taxpayers’ money! Our taxes are paying for their court fees, their many attorney, and their countless charges for transcriptions and paperwork.
Meanwhile, no mother or child was harmed. No client was upset about the care they received. No complaints were filed. Just an agenda on the part of AZDHS to harass midwives on taxpayer dollars.
The personal cost for midwives like Diane is great. But we do what we do because we love it and because we are called.
Every midwife fighting in court needs help. Diane needs help. There are many campaigns running to help fund the cause. Here’s our campaign to raise funds for all Arizona midwives in court battles: CrowdRise.
Every contribution you make helps—from $5 to $500. She will soon be required to pay court fees and transcription fees. The list doesn’t stop. It is an expensive battle—but a worthy one. Help her fight for you, your family, and your daughters.
Click this link to donate to midwives like Diane:
You can also get involved by helping raise awareness. To learn more, visit these organizations:
A quick update: A few days ago AzDHS DROPPED THE APPEAL!!!! The judgement stands. Diane, Julie and the AZ birth community have a incredible victory!!!!