Sunday, April 27, 2008

Florida Court Rejects Religious Defense To Unlicensed Midwifery Charges

In McGlade v. State of Florida, (FL Ct. App., April 25, 2008), a Florida state appellate court rejected a claim by two defendants accused of practicing midwifery without a license that the jury should have been instructed on their free exercise of religion defense. The court held that while defendants showed that their involvement in home births was substantially motivated by their religious beliefs, they presented no evidence that the midwifery license law substantially burdened the exercise of their religion. However, defendants' convictions were reversed and the case remanded for a new trial because of other errors in the jury instructions given at trial. Saturday's Sarasota (FL) Herald Tribune reporting on the case says that defendants Linda and Tanya McGlade have been out of prison during the appeal-- on order of the Court of Appeal (full text of order) after the trial judge refused to permit them to post bond. (See prior related posting.)

Meanwhile Saturday's Houston Chronicle features a story about a Pennsylvania midwife who is appealing a cease and desist order issued against her by the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine. Diane Goslin served many in Pennsylvania's Amish community. She is a certified professional midwife, but not a nurse-midwife as required by Pennsylvania law. (See prior related posting.)