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Unlicensed midwife charged in death of Moab newborn

Published: Wednesday, June 19 2013 3:49 p.m. MDT

"When the mother arrived, she was pale, confused, not alert or oriented and had unintelligible speech," charges state. "Medical professionals observed profound trauma to the mother's vaginal area, resulting from the defendant's use of the vacuum, that caused such severe bleeding that the mother would have died had there been additional delay transporting her to the hospital."

ElHalta has published several articles about being a midwife. She claims to have delivered more than 3,000 babies all around the world in 40 years of work, the most recent being Monday.

"I'm not a monster. I'm just a grandmother," she said Wednesday outside her Eagle Mountain home.

ElHalta claims to have a good relationship with the mother and her family. She said she did not consider the birth to be high-risk. ElHalta adamantly denied Wednesday doing anything wrong.

She admitted her midwife certification was revoked following a 2003 wrongful death suit in Michigan that was settled out of court. ElHalta declined to go into detail about what happened in that case.

According to the North American Registry of Midwives Board, a person who has their certification rejected "may no longer refer to themselves as a NARM CPM, Certified Professional Midwife, or CPM, and are advised to honestly and responsibly inform current and prospective clients that their CPM credential has been revoked. A midwife whose CPM is revoked is prohibited from serving as preceptor for NARM certification applicants."

Former state Rep. Holly Richardson, a midwife of 14 years, played a key role in getting the Utah Legislature to pass a law in 2005 that set up guidelines for certifying lay midwives. With certification, midwives in Utah may administer a limited number of prescription drugs and perform certain prenatal care duties.

Midwives can still be unlicensed in Utah and legally assist with a delivery, Richardson said. But those births are typically very natural. In the case of the Moab mother, Richardson said, ElHalta should never have attempted to deliver the baby outside a hospital.

"She absolutely acted out of that scope. If these allegations are true, that she was using a vacuum extractor at home, there's no midwife anywhere in the country that would use a vacuum extractor. It's totally inappropriate," she said. "All the midwives I personally have ever worked with or know would have said, 'I cannot take you as a client. You are too high risk.'"

The court issued a summons for ElHalta to make an initial appearance in court on July 9.

Contributing: Sandra Yi

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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