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  • Nathan Riley, MD

Obgyno Wino Podcast Episode 44 - Midwifery is Under Attack: the Case in NY

Updated: Apr 2

"You are a birth servant. Do good without show or fuss. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped but still free and in charge. When the baby is born they will rightly say: 'We did it ourselves'" - The Tao Te Ching

2017 Merlot from Chalkboard Wines



In late 2018, Elizabeth Catlin was brutally arrested, jailed, and released on bail raised by her community. In 2020, Elizabeth's friend and colleague, Melissa Carman was arrested by the same officer. Their alleged crime? The unauthorized practice of a profession, or “pretending to be a midwife,” as the arresting officer told Ms. Catlin.


Liz Catlin and Melissa Carman are Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) in rural northwestern New York, where they are called to assist Amish and Mennonite communities around pregnancy and childbirth. Although CPMs make up over two thirds of home birth midwives in the United States, and are licensed and regulated in 35 states, New York does not license or recognize CPMs. Instead, New York only licenses Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), and a CNM offshoot credential, the Certified Midwife (CM), leaving CPMs outside the healthcare scheme. The New York State Association of Licensed Midwives (NYSALM) has condemned the arrests of Ms. Catlin and Ms. Carman and called for the inclusion of CPMs in New York’s licensure scheme in the Unified Midwifery Practice Act. The current COVID-19 crisis has increased demand for midwifery support for out-of-hospital birth, and ACOG, as well as state departments of health, have called for increased. access and integration of midwives, including CPMs. Despite the need for their skills and care, midwives remain vulnerable to traumatizing arrests and criminal prosecutions for showing up for the women who want their services.


In Episode 44 of the Obgyno Wino podcast, I'll be speaking with Liz and Melissa about these charges and how the future of midwifery is at stake. Also joining us is Hermine Hayes-Klein, who authored this introduction. She is an attorney and will be providing some historical and legal context for. this conversation.


Letter from the New York State Association of License Midwives statement in support of Elizabeth and Melissa


Read ACOG's COVID-19 FAQ for OBGYNs

Read sMFM's guidelines for COVID-19


Visit these Facebook pages for updates in the cases against Elizabeth and Melissa:

NY Friends of CPMs

Friends of Elizabeth Catlin


Support midwives by assisting with legal fees:

Elizabeth's GoFundMe

Melissa's GoFundMe

Liz Catlin, CPM (Photo courtesy of a friend and supporter of Liz, found on Yahoo)

Melisa Carman, CPM


Hermine Hayes-Klein, J.D., can be contacted through her website

Hermine Hayes-Klein, J.D.


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