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Crowd Turns Out To Support Midwife

February 25, 1986

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) _ About 100 people, some carrying babies in backpacks, turned out to support a midwife on trial on charges of practicing medicine without a license.

″It’s going to be a long haul, and we are going to win this battle,″ Susana Napierala, 33, of Glen Ellen, told backers at a rally Monday, the first day of her Superior Court trial.

Some babies had signs pinned to them saying they had been ″born at home.″ The rally also featured a display of balloons reading ″Support Your Local Midwife″ and signs proclaiming ″Legalize Freedom of Choice in Childbirth.″

Defense attorney Stephen Keller told the court Monday he plans to call midwifery experts from England and Denmark to testify on behalf of Napierala, accused in connection with a home birth she supervised in 1982 in which the mother began hemorrhaging.

The mother, Tammi Dawson, was rushed to a hospital where Dr. Jerome Solomon, her former obstetrician, treated her in the emergency room. Solomon estimated the woman lost approximately half her blood by the time she arrived at the hospital.

Minutes before, Dawson, 20, had given birth to an eight-pound boy at her El Verano home.

She recovered and later had two more children.

Judge John Gallagher ruled Monday that Deputy District Attorney Greg Jacobs will not have to prove Napierala was guilty of negligence to support his allegation that she practiced medicine without a license.

In California, midwives can only practice legally if they are registered nurses, are specially trained and work under the supervision of a doctor.

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