Judy Jones, quiverfull “midwife from hell,” charged with manslaughter in death of Nebraska baby

Judy Jones, quiverfull “midwife from hell,” charged with manslaughter in death of Nebraska baby January 22, 2013

by Vyckie Garrison

Of all the extreme choices I made while in thrall to the “radically pro-life” Quiverfull philosophy of trusting my reproductive life to God, my decision to attempt a home birth after three c-sections was probably the most dangerous and irresponsible.

Because I had made the commitment to welcome every pregnancy as an unmitigated gift from the Lord, and because I also believed that accepting government assistance in the form of Medicaid was tantamount to trusting Caesar to provide for the health and wellbeing of my babies, I desperately sought an alternative to the expensive surgical deliveries.

I know now that it was absurd for a woman with my health issues and high-risk status to eschew all medical care and trust myself and my unborn baby to an unlicensed “lay midwife” – but I was idealistically motivated, and it made perfect sense to me at the time. In fact, I was absolutely certain that it was God Himself who put the idea in my head and lead me to Judy Jones.

Read the whole horrible disaster here if you don’t mind getting a headache. It’s long, I know – but I felt it was important to provide details of Judy’s incompetent, negligent, and abusive pre- and post-natal care which seriously endangered my life and my baby’s life, and left me so physically, emotionally, and spiritually traumatized that I suffered severe PTSD for over a year and still sometimes have nightmares almost seventeen years later.

Yesterday I learned that Judy Jones has been arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a baby boy she delivered in Nebraska back in November 2011.

South Dakota Midwife Charged with Manslaughter in Death of Nebraska Baby

By Territory Media

Judy Kay Jones, 65 of Irene South Dakota, was arrested on a Custer County Nebraska Warrant practicing medicine without a license and a warrant for manslaughter.

Jones is being charged with a Class III Felony for Manslaughter in the death of a Custer County infant in 2011 and practicing medicine without a license. It is alleged that in 2011 Jones presented herself to a Custer County, Nebraska couple as a midwife and assisted in the delivery of their infant child (Eli Fenske) in September of 2011; the child later died. The child, Eli Fenske, started having medical problems shortly after he was born, but investigators say Jones failed to perform follow-up tests and did not contact a doctor when the child stopped breathing. …

As the article points out, this is not the first time Judy has been arrested and in fact, she has served time in prison after the South Dakota Supreme Court found her in willful violation of the prohibition against practicing midwifery without a license.

The South Dakota Board of Nursing and the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners have been trying for almost two decades to stop  Judy Jones – who received her training through apprenticeship and self-study – from practicing her own variation of “spiritual midwifery” which amounts to what I call home birth hocus pocus. Sadly, when these unsafe practices result in maternal or infant death, rather than demanding justice, her client families protect Judy and defend her to the authorities.

Why? Because they believe the adverse outcomes are God’s will. To give readers just a taste of the level of spiritual abuse and brainwashing to which Judy’s home birthing moms are subjected, let me share a portion of my own birth story:

Even though we really didn’t have the money for it, I insisted that I needed to go to the OB/GYN. “I can’t handle this anymore ~ I feel like I’m dying!”

I was laying on the couch and Judy got down on her knees beside me and did what she called a “diaphragmatic release” ~ in which she put one hand under my lower back and her other hand on my lower abdomen and then waited patiently while the uterine muscles relaxed. It did calm me down ~ and while we waited, Judy told me a bible story.

She told me about the time when the children of Israel were wandering the in the desert ~ and the Lord was providing for their every need ~ even raining down manna from heaven for them to eat. But the Israelites grew tired and impatient ~ and greedy. They demanded meat ~ and the Lord sent so much quail that the children of Israel were sick of it.

“They had meat in abundance,” Judy explained, “but they suffered leanness of the soul.”

Leanness of the soul … that’s what happens to those who don’t trust the Lord through their trials ~ those who seek “worldly” remedies and don’t have the faith to believe that God will never give us more than we can handle.

I absolutely dreaded the thought of having a lean soul ~ I would not disappoint the Lord by giving in and going to a medical doctor who would no doubt insist on doing another c-section delivery and thereby rob me of the testimony which the Lord was working in my life through this difficult circumstance.

I was convinced that it would be better to suffer and die rather than to seek “worldly” medical attention. And even after my home birth attempt ended miserably in an emergency c-section, I defended Judy and continued to trust her to attend my next delivery in which I actually did give birth to my son at home despite a history of four cesareans.

The safety of VBACs and home birthing is not the issue – although I should add that part of the reason that Judy does not get prosecuted is because women who are supporters of home birth are afraid that all of midwifery will be painted with the same broad brush – so they don’t speak up for fear of it leading to unnecessarily restrictive regulation. Unfortunately the result is that the medical community and law enforcement see dead women and babies as frequent home birth outcomes – and so they push for more regulation.

What’s relevant is the degree of danger to which fundamentalist women will subject ourselves and our children in order to live out the unreasonable demands of a movement which really only values us for our fertility and the ability to produce a quiver full of arrows – i.e., more sons to perpetuate the patriarchy.

My idealism clouded my judgment and left me vulnerable to charlatans like Judy Jones. Although I don’t doubt her sincerity, Judy is a danger to the Quiverfull moms here in the Midwest who seek family-friendly, safe, healthy, God-honoring alternatives to expensive hospital deliveries.


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