Radical Midwife Barred From Practicing After 10 Day Delivery Kills Baby

Radical Midwife Barred From Practicing After 10 Day Delivery Kills Baby July 19, 2019

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.

When paramedics arrived at the couple’s home, first responders rushed Bell to the hospital. At the hospital, a doctor performed an ultrasound and other tests to detect a fetal heartbeat. However, Bell told the court that the doctor could not find a heartbeat. Additionally, the doctor noted that the mother uterus was completely empty of amniotic fluid.

“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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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Neville

    “Sign this piece of paper saying the government doesn’t exist and you can have all sorts of things go wrong without the government being able to do anything to protect you. Cross my heart and hope you die.”

  • wannabe

    You really ought to put every occurrence of the phrase “sovereign citizen” in quotes because otherwise some people might assume it’s a real thing.

  • wannabe

    As described in this story, Ms. Bell would’ve gotten competent medical help for her pregnancy were it not for her health insurance situation. As it transpired, she’s left with a huge medical bill and a dead baby. Yay, America!

  • Chibana

    Most, if not all, states have programs to assist with prenatal care and birth for this exact reason.

  • karmacat

    This takes willful ignorance on Ms. Lentz’s part to think that nothing can go wrong in pregnancy or childbirth.

  • overgrownhobbit

    Can we all appreciate how pants-soilingly terrifying the phrase “sovereign citizen midwife” is?

  • persephone

    Our bodies aren’t perfect. Never have been. There has always been loss of life involved in pregnancy, whether the mother, child, or both. They’re selling unicorn farts and magical thinking.

  • Dan

    Yeah, but I’ll bet that the state doesn’t exactly publicise these programs very well so that they can save money due to lack of uptake by prospective mothers.

  • Well… they do exist, and they are a very real thing.

    Doesn’t make their beliefs any less wacky.

  • “Sovereign Citizen midwife”

    …no. No. Nuh-uh. Nah. Not happening. NOPE. That’s someone you run away from.

  • wannabe

    Are UFO abductees “a very real thing”?

  • medivh

    In that there are people who claim that UFOs have abducted them, yes. Again, it doesn’t make their beliefs any less wacky.

  • Yep. There are people who genuinely believe they’ve been abducted.

  • Sandra Tanner

    in AZ the state board of nursing makes nurses sign they won’t sue them , as part of a consent agreement. WTH? why would they put that in their ‘agreement ” ? They will take a case like this they did nothing to prevent public harm, and try to make themselves out to be hero’s. (((
    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)))
    Nurses only sign to get the Bd off their backs. a racket, abuse of power.

  • Mark in Ohio

    While I’m not certain about these circumstances, I’ve been told that many of these “programs” have significant qualifications one has to meet, such as overall family income. It’s very possible to make too much to qualify but still not enough to purchase health insurance.

  • AutumnMF

    So many unfortunate problems here…
    It sounds like Ms Bell would have had a safe birth and a live baby had she just gone to the hospital in full blown labor and sorted out the financials after the fact. That of course would mean she was without prenatal care, but then, this charlatan “midwife” probably wasn’t competent there either.

    Here’s part of the rub, an otherwise competent lay midwife sometimes risks prosecution if she brings a patient to the hospital appropriately and in a timely manner. She may risk prosecution even if all is well and the reason she transported was something that would happen anyway, no matter the education of the midwife. no matter that you get a healthy mom and healthy baby. That’s wrong. People will still use lay midwives even if we made hospital birth perfect. You never want a lay midwife to be afraid to transport.

    The next problem is that the preparation of a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is woefully inadequate. Anyone can get the certification and if you compare the requirements against those of midwifery schools in Canada and Australia you’ll see the STARK differences. If you then look at the requirements for a nurse midwifery program here in the States… Then we have the fact that it’s rare for any OB-GYN to risk their fiscal and professional necks to oversee the practice of a midwife delivering mothers at home. A nurse midwife needs a practice agreement because she’s supposed to be practicing under the supervision of an MD/DO.

    Finally we have the state of hospital birth in this country…it’s become a mess again. We almost had it…I had three beautiful, unmedicated hospital births, the first in 1997 the last in 2006. with the rise of “hospitalist OBs” and other issues the quality of care has diminished and as more women face insurance challenges it can be hard to get the quality care and the provider-patient relationship that allows for births like mine.

    Homebirth doesn’t have to be dangerous and hospital birth doesn’t have to stink.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Legal or not, you don’t want to deal with ANY sort of health care professional who isn’t licensed by the appropriate bodies…

  • Mel

    It’s a bad sign when someone tells you to lie to medical professionals. That’s a great sign that the person telling you to lie does not have your best interests at heart and is trying to protect themselves from the fallout of their actions.

    Just ask people who abuse family members about how honest the victims should be to doctors.

  • Mel

    I’ve lived a charmed life where I’d never heard of the “sovereign citizen” theory of white people can declare themselves free of the evil government that lets African-Americans be citizens by relinquishing their citizenship and….and….well, that’s where it all falls apart, yeah? Because even if you are not a citizen of a country, you are still responsible for following the laws of a country or risk criminal charges.

    Like 5 minutes of reading on Wikipedia made it clear that there are certainly people who will try and argue that the government can’t hold them accountable for anything – and that no one in a wide variety of states and legal issues has been able to use that defense successfully.

    It’s doubly hilarious – in a painful way – when women try to use that defense since we’ve not quite reached the 100 year anniversary of being able to vote in elections.

  • Heck, you don’t even need to go to Wikipedia. You just have to realise that tourists do get arrested for doing illegal things even if they show their papers showing they are, in fact, tourists.

  • Mike Stevens

    So she is guilty of “Practicing medicine without a license”? That’s it? This is pretty self-evident – no need for a court to determine that.
    But why isn’t this woman in jail already?
    …I bet any attempt to bring further criminal charges will founder (despite this being a country where a woman whose unborn baby died after she was assaulted and shot in the stomach can be charged with manslaughter).

  • If a woman said that she was seeking help from a ‘sovereign citizen midwife,’ my first thought would to tell her to turn tail and get the f#$k out of there. Someone who is not licensed has no respect for themselves and their patients. The FDA mmqregulates medications, food, additves and anything to do with agricultrure.

  • Stefanie

    See i was wondering how much this would even do. If she considers herself a sovereign citizen she probable does not care what the judge had to say.

  • Thornmarch

    You have a few misconceptions.
    Lay midwives have zero training and should be prosecuted when they are found to be practicing medicine without a license.
    CPMs can’t even be compared to midwives in other countries. You touched on that but didn’t really state that they have zero education. They also should be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license.
    CNMs can and do attend home births. They usually don’t but do you know why? Because the chance of a baby dying at home is 800% higher than in a hospital. They don’t do it because they can’t get a physician contract (which is part of it, but some physicians will) it’s because the practice is so damn dangerous that they don’t want to risk their license they worked so hard to get. As for the physicians that won’t give back up, also look to why CNMs generally prefer not to. This is the only midwife that would pass muster in another country. This is the training that is given to midwives in the UK, Netherlands, Australia, etc.
    The problem in America is that people hear the word “midwife” and immediately picture the training midwives in other countries have. MANA sits back and states how safe midwifery is because midwives cover most deliveries in other countries. This is misleading because MANA’s midwives aren’t trained anywhere near the midwives they are citing. Thus the general public thinks all midwives in the US are highly trained. They don’t find out until after their baby dies. These midwifes aren’t allowed to practice in 28 states. We need to pass federal law preventing them from being able to practice anywhere in the country under any circumstances. I would let a taxi driver attend my birth over these “midwives”. They need to stop using stats from midwives from other countries and using those as proof that home birth is safe.

  • andrea

    Skeptical OB wrote about that at least once in a post or two a few years back about “is your homebirth midwife emotionally manipulating you?” (If you haven’t seen it yet.)

  • Mel

    Thanks! I’ve been an SOB reader for a few years now – and that’s a great article.

  • lady_black

    Nurse midwives are able to practice independently, and do not need “supervision.” They have practice agreements to ensure continuity of care for the women they care for if things go sideways. They are not licensed (for example) to perform Caesarian deliveries.
    Other than that, they can do it all. Induce labor, deliver infants, order epidurals, etc. You claim home birth doesn’t have to be dangerous. My belief, as a nurse, is that home deliveries are inherently dangerous, and having a poorly trained attendant makes it more dangerous.

  • lady_black

    In my state, if you are pregnant and uninsured, you automatically qualify for Medicaid, at least for the duration of the pregnancy.
    They don’t want people going full Amish and dying in childbirth at home, or foregoing prenatal care, or having stillborn infants.

  • Ally

    Midwife? I think that that’s too generous a title, even if we’re talking about a CPM. Delusional, paranoid quack sounds more apt.

  • Max

    This woman needs jail time and forced sterilization.

  • Wubbsy

    Death in childbirth is not radical at all.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Who else thinks that “sovereign citizens” should be subject to deportation under the same conditions as foreigners on visas who commit crimes? If they don’t want to abide by U. S. laws, they shouldn’t also be able to claim the protections offered to U. S. citizens.

  • AutumnMF

    The folks I don’t want unreasonably harassed are those who serve the Amish and Mennonite community. They prefer to birth at home but will go to the hospital when needed. I did say that CPMs are woefully under trained and I did say that the training in places like Canada and Australia is far more thorough and intense.

    I had 3 CNM attended hospital deliveries. I would wish that anyone could always get the stellar care I got. I wish that people who plan to have their babies at home understood the risks they undertake.

  • AutumnMF

    I never said they couldn’t do these things. Technically all advance practice nurses practice under the supervision of an MD/DO even if it’s only a slight technicality. (as in hospital employees) Like I said above, a CNM delivered all three of mine in the hospital and I wish every woman everywhere got the stellar car I got, not only from my nurse-midwife, but from all my nurses!!

  • lady_black

    No, they do NOT “all practice under the supervision of an MD/DO.” That would negate the entire purpose for having nurse practitioners. They are licensed to practice autonomously. In some specialties, they do partner with physicians, but they are not practicing under the license of the physician. They are practicing under their own authority, and it’s not a technicality. They are independent practitioners.

  • AutumnMF

    I wrote a long post on this, but it went poof. The short form is that in my state, NY, a nurse practitioner, in most cases, needs a “Collaborative agreement” with an MD/DO. There are circumstances where more experienced people need less oversight but there you have it.

    http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/nursepracticefaq.htm

    I am aware that in some other states this is not needed. I knew in NYS that generally they did need something.

  • se habla espol

    Nah. “SovCits” have declared themselves to be outlaws, and their declaration should be taken at face value. They should be required to deport themselves, at their own expense, paying for their use of public/government facilities like roads and airports.