LAGRANGE – The arrest of a woman in northern Indiana on midwifery charges sparked a protest that highlights a long-running push in the state to legalize the practice of certified professional midwives.
Nearly 100 women, men and children protested Monday outside the LaGrange County Courthouse in support of Ireena Keeslar, a Howe resident who was arrested March 31 on a felony charge of practicing midwifery without a license.
Many of the protesting women held babies that had been delivered by unlicensed midwives, and some wore blue T-shirts reading License my midwife and Liberty for midwifes.
Keeslar, who was arrested March 31, has since been released on $10,000 bail.
Authorities allege that Keeslar assisted at a home birth in which medical procedures were performed without proper qualifications.
Keeslar, 49, was scheduled to have her initial hearing Monday morning, but her attorney, Richard Muntz, said the hearing was waived and a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf.
Parrish said Indiana midwives need to be licensed nurses and complete masters degrees in midwife training. Those midwives can then be licensed as Certified Nurse Midwifes.
The News-Sun reports that Keeslar considers herself a certified professional midwife – a profession not recognized by the state of Indiana. Keeslar said she practices most of her midwifery in Michigan, where no license is required.
She said Monday that she worked as a nurse at two hospitals in the past.