Holly Richardson and the “rogue” midwife

I was able to get in contact with Holly Richardson (of Holly on the Hill), who is running for house district 57 in Utah right now regarding the problems with the midwifery bill in Utah. She was instrumental in passing the bill, so I was interested in what she would want to do about the gaps that allow dangerous women like Valerie El Halta to come to Utah and practice legally. Here is the first exchange, which she deleted from her facebook page:

holly richardsonI said “What do you plan to do about negligent midwives? Your bill is what enabled killer midwife Valerie El Halta to deliver babies in utah without a license. What do you want to change about the bill to prevent another tragedy in the future?

Holly “You obviously have NO IDEA what you are talking about but thanks for your input.”

I tried to reply but she had deleted the thread already. I am not sure what she meant here, I did know what I was talking about. El Halta had her NARM certification revoked before coming to Utah, she came here because she could practice midwifery without having to obtain a license. If there had been mandatory licensing in our state she would not have come here, and would not have worked as a midwife, and would not have been given permission by the state to kill another newborn. A life might have been saved by that legislation and we now have an opportunity to maybe save someone else in the future, but Holly isn’t interested. She isn’t interested in being responsible for the legislation she pushed through in Utah and its deadly results.

I would be more willing to be charitable towards Holly Richardson if she took some responsibility for what happened, but she doesn’t. I went back to her facebook page to talk to her more because I think the public deserves answers.

holly richardson 3I ask again about what she plans to do about the bill that enabled the death of this child. She replies “Which is why I spoke to the press about the rogue midwife practicing far ouside her scope of practice”.

I point out that unlicensed midwives aren’t subject to the scope of practice standards in the direct entry midwifery act. Holly claims there are standards, “including criminal”, but I could only find two actual standards for unlicensed midwives. They can’t claim to be licensed, and they can’t carry certain drugs. The law says that doing those things is “a misdomenor”, but when I reported the midwife I used (who claimed to be licensed but was not) nothing happened. Valerie El Halta was not charged for using prescription drugs w/her patient either, so the law is not being enforced nor is it clear what misdomenor police are supposed to charge unlicensed midwives with when they violate these (weak) standards.

Unlicensed midwives can attend any kind of birth they want to, and that is the important issue that is cause for concern in utah. They can attend a footling breech birth after 4 c-sections with triplets if they want to. Nothing in law prohibits dangerous practices from midwives who aren’t licensed. Holly knows that, because her personal reaction to the newborn death was to host a meeting instructing midwives on how to lobby to keep the laws exactly the same. A baby died and her reaction was to help everyone keep things the same so that this can happen again.

I want to take a moment to address Holly Richardson’s claim that Valerie is a “rogue” midwife, because I know that isn’t true either. Holly is an administrator of the Utah Midwives Organization. When they were getting together for an annual conference a few years back they had a poll asking who should be the keynote speaker.  Check out the names suggested here: UMA keynote speaker valerie el haltaLooks like you can choose Ina May Gaskin, Valerie El Halta, or “other”. Valerie came to utah after a long history of dangerous practices and dead children, so it wasn’t some sort of secret that she behaved this way. If she was a rogue then she was one that the community completely supported and accepted (meaning, she wasn’t a rogue at all). Only when the press came asking questions did anyone pretend like this death was surprising. Holly also pretended that it was unusual for midwives to practice far outside of the scope outlined in the direct entry midwifery act, but its not. I know for a fact it is not.

Do you have a baby that is in breech position after 36 weeks gestation (which licensed midwives aren’t supposed to attend)? Don’t worry, there are unlicensed midwives willing to help you out, and your licensed midwife will pick up the phone and call her if things get dangerous and give you tips on how to avoid going to the hospital. Here is a ‘breech expert’ even (whatever that means), who delivered an almost dead baby in 2011 because midwives helped the mom avoid transfer.  It was a VBAC too. That is a combination of risk factors that no midwife should find acceptable, but more than one of them did.  There are other breech stories floating around, and that the Midwife Alliance of North America (MANA) has demonstrated that breech births have horrendously bad outcomes when attended by CPMS in out of hospital settings. There is no excuse for why this continues in our state, knowing what we do now.

UPDATE 2/24- the story I linked to above has been removed. Luckily its been screen capped and can be found here. 

Oh no, but what if you have twins or gestational diabetes? What if you have those problems and a prior c-section? Don’t worry about that either, here is a woman who will take you on as a patient even though she isn’t qualified to manage those conditions.

Here is a story about an overdue set of twins being attended to in utah by a midwife (who was likely unlicensed).

Here is another unlicensed  Utah midwife advertising her willingness to attend vbacs, twins, and breech births.

The question I have for Holly Richardson, and anyone else who thinks the midwifery act in utah is so great, is this:

Do you think that the public will stand for deaths to happen again and again? How long do you really think this will last? Wouldn’t it be better to prevent a death instead of trying to cover up the practices that led to it?


9 thoughts on “Holly Richardson and the “rogue” midwife

  1. While I’m flattered you want to highlight my campaign, your anti-midwife agenda will get you nowhere in this state. And really, you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to Utah law, the process we went through, or the mood on the Hill. Sadly, you’re not even brave enough to use your real name to attack political candidates. I am proud of my work on behalf of midwives in this state. We have a long history of safe midwifery care. For those who practice outside their scope, there already are safeguards in place. We are a right-to-work state and we are predominately Republican, which means we believe in limited government and in people’s right to make decisions for themselves and their families – and those include healthcare decisions. Although you refuse to use your real name, I am quite certain that you were never a part of the discussions to legalize midwifery in Utah, nor have you ever been involved in lobbying. It’s evident that it is difficult for you to read and understand the Utah code but I assure you, there are consequences for those midwives who practice outside their scope.
    Believe it or not, midwifery is not my primary interest in running for office. It’s education and the economy.

    • You don’t know what I’ve been through, but I have tried (unsuccesfully) to get a midwife in trouble for practicing outside of her scope and lying about her qualifications to me. I don’t use my real name because the misconduct included inappropriate sexual touching, and I don’t think its unreasonable to want privacy while coming forward with my story. Newspapers have the same policy of not publishing the name of abuse victims. The community has rallied behind my abuser and the police, the UMO, and DOPL, have told me that nothing can be done about this. I have an intimate knowledge of the reality of what this law is about because I’ve tried to get it enforced and no one will do it.

    • Then why do I have an audio recording of you giving a presentation to midwives in response to the valerie el halta debacle? That was 2012. It was all about how to influence legislators. There is a bit in there where you look particularly petty because you say that if someone is abrupt or rude in telling you about an issue that is important to them you go out of your way to oppose it.

  2. Conveniently, that link to the HBAC breech story with the breech “expert” seems to have been deleted from the Hypnobirthing site. I am familiar with this expert–I personally know women who either know her who have given birth with her and hired her BECAUSE she takes on “variations of normal”

  3. Holly said, “Your anti-midwife agenda will get you nowhere in this state.” What does that even mean? It’s my way or the highway? I’m a Utah Republican who would very much like to see CPMs exposed for what they are: undereducated birth junkies who try to persuade women they don’t need lifesaving medical support in childbirth because they, the CPMs, can’t provide it. I don’t believe in limited government if it means putting babies at needless risk. I’m not against allowing women to give birth however they want, but I am against lay people representing themselves as health care providers.

    Your response to Safer Midwifery in Utah has been very unprofessional. You deleted her comments on your FB page. Why? Is any disagreement with your opinion considered harassment? If Safer is wrong, just show us how. You keep talking about “standards” and “consequences,” but you won’t say what they are. Please enlighten those of us who can’t understand the code as well as you. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned, every home birth midwife is practicing outside her scope. Hospital birth is safest for babies. I don’t care if midwifery is your interest in running for office. You are one of Utah lay midwifery’s foremost proponents, and there are those of us in Utah who want a reversal of a law which allows undertrained birth attendants to represent their services as safe.

  4. Pingback: It was just a matter of time | Safer Midwifery in Utah

  5. Pingback: Midwife: its your fault you are traumatized | Safer Midwifery in Utah

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