An unlicensed midwife learned her fate in Indiana after her incompetence led to the death of a baby and nearly killed the mother. Julie Lentz, an unlicensed sovereign citizen midwife, was barred from practicing midwifery in Indiana related to the death of a full-term infant in May.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Amanda Bell gave birth in May at her home in Indiana. Bell hired Julie Lentz as her midwife to aid in her home birth. In court, Bell shared the heartwrenching details of the delivery that killed her baby and nearly resulted in her death.
The grieving mother testified to the judge in Porter Superior Court in Indiana. Judge Mary Harper listened intently to the mother and prosecutor as they laid out their evidence. According to Bell, she hired Julie Lentz to work as her midwife. Julie Lentz runs a company called Sacred Lotus Midwifery.
According to Bell, she hired Lentz on February 2019 after she ran into issues with her insurance. Without insurance to cover health care, Bell thought that Lentz was the best alternative to deliver her baby.
Bell stated that Julie Lentz disclosed to her that she was not licensed to practice midwifery in Indiana. However, Lentz told Bell that she could join a sovereign-citizen association called Private Member Association to get around this issue. Lentz explained that by becoming a member of PMA, neither Lentz nor Bell could be prosecuted or held criminally liable for anything related to birth. Additionally, Lentz said the PMA made their relationship a “private transaction” that ensured she could practice legally.
“She told me she was not licensed but the PMA (primary member association) allowed her to practice legally,” Bell said.
Based on the information provided by Lentz, Bell said she signed up to join the PMA. However, Lentz never offered her a contract related to the PMA. On Sacred Lotus Midwifery Facebook page, Julie Lentz promotes an archaic belief about birth. She discourages mothers from receiving ultrasounds, using medications, and shares misinformation about the “safety” of delivery.
During Bell’s testimony, she told the judge about the day of her birth. According to Bell, her baby was in a breech position. Lentz allowed the woman to continue her birth at home even though her water broke ten days earlier. Instead of transferring Bell to the hospital, Lentz assured the woman everything was fine.
“I was in a lot of pain. I told (Lentz) that I didn’t understand and she kept encouraging me,” Bell, 32, said. “Everything was hurting so bad, and I didn’t expect it to hurt so bad. It felt like the baby was going to come out of my stomach. She kept telling me everything was normal.”
Over the course of several days of labor, the mother complained of headaches, nausea, and having chills. The mother’s water broke six days before her due date. Before the woman was transferred to the hospital, her amniotic sac had been broken for 10 days. Despite the length of time in labor, the midwife discouraged the mother from transferring to a hospital.
When the pain became too unbearable, the midwife agreed to allow the woman to transfer to the hospital. However, Julie Lentz instructed Bell’s husband to tell paramedics that her water broke within the past 24-hours and not ten days previously.
The lawsuit against Lentz states,
“After calling for an 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,” documents state. “When paramedics arrived, (Lentz) told them the mother was dilated 5-6 centimeters, that she could feel the baby’s head, and that the mother’s vitals and the baby’s vitals were stable throughout labor,” according to court documents.
“The doctor apologized to me because there was no heartbeat,” Bell said, adding she underwent a cesarean section under general anesthesia. “When I woke up I had burning pain in my stomach and several intravenous pain medicines. (The doctor) told me I was lucky to be alive, that I had one of the worst infections she’d seen in 10 years of practice.”
According to the lawsuit brought by the State Attorney’s General Office, the state argued that Lentz misleads consumers by offering the PMA as a way to bypass legal requirements to practice midwifery.
“(Julie) Lentz misleads consumers to believe that she is qualified to practice midwifery in Indiana when she is not, resulting in increased risk of harm being placed on consumers and their unborn children,” according to the state’s lawsuit.
After hearing the testimony of Amanda Bell and prosecutors, the judge spoke to Julie Lentz to make her ruling. Judge Mary Harper agreed with prosecutors that Julie Lentz broke the law and practiced medicine without a license.
“The evidence suggests that medical services were provided for compensation and the testimony was replete with what those services were,” Harper said, adding prosecutors met their burden of proof. “You are hereby enjoined from acting in any consumer actions or midwifery as you do not have, based on the evidence presented here today, the appropriate state license. The allegations are true.”
Julie Lentz responded to the judge and said: “I understand.” Lentz attended the hearing without an attorney.
The hearing with the judge followed a lawsuit filed by the State Attorney General’s Office against Lentz in May.
Following the ruling by the court, Porter County Prosecutor Gary German said he would forward the case to the Sheriff’s Office to conduct an investigation. German attended the hearing against Lentz to determine if the county will move forward with criminal charges. The prosecutor said the investigation is in the preliminary stages.
Additionally, the Indiana State Board of Nursing will hear motions this month related to Julie Lentz’s practice. The state is requesting that the State Board of Nursing issues a cease and desist against Julie Lentz for practicing without a nursing license.
Despite the ruling by the court, Julie Lentz’s website and Facebook pages remain active. In fact, her website encourages individuals to contact Julie for appointments. Sovereign Citizen midwives believe they can practice medicine outside of the law. They ask their clients to sign bogus contracts that promise them immunity from the law.
However, the contracts aren’t worth the paper they are signed on. Instead, the clients trust the midwives and move forward with unskilled women that have no business delivering babies.
Currently, multiple states have filed lawsuits against traditional midwives for practicing without proper medical licensure. Hopefully, more states will follow suit and protect women from predators like Julie Lentz.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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