Abandoned In Progress

On April 17, 1995, a baby was born at 8:00 am.  According to a complaint later filed against attending midwife Clarebeth Loprinzi-Kassel, the mother attempted unsuccessfully to push the placenta out from that time until 2:00pm, at which point Ms. Loprinzi-Kassel and the other attending midwife both abandoned the mother with the placenta still implanted in her uterus. When she returned at about 10:00pm — FOURTEEN hours after the delivery of the baby — the mother required immediate transport to the hospital, where she received a transfusion of blood, general anesthesia, and surgical removal of the placenta.

In response to the investigation of the complaint, midwife Loprinzi-Kassel (who now owns a midwifery school in Hawaii and has been interviewed for scholarly publication by Ina May Gaskin) sued the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery and they declined to discipline her for abandoning her patient. Following their inaction, CNM Kate Davidson resigned from the BDEM stating in a letter to the board,

After the Board’s decision not to revoke the license of a midwife who left a patient with a placenta undelivered, I do not feel I can honestly continue to serve and maintain my own personal integrity. I feel this was an egregious act and failure to revoke the license conflicts with the Board’s duty to protect the public.

In 1999, Clarebeth attended a breech birth in which the infant died. Finally in 2002 — three years after the complaint and seven after the egregious behavior she displayed in the first complaint — she agreed to give up her license in lieu of having it revoked.

Questions to consider:

  1. When it was obvious that this mother was having difficulty delivering her placenta, rather than choosing to call for help, Loprinzi chose to leave her there alone. How does this mesh with the “midwifery model of care” and the idea that a midwife is “with women”? Whose interests were being served by this decision?
  2. Did Loprinzi inform the mother of the risks (hemorrhage, placenta accreta, infection, much more) of continuing with an undelivered placenta before she left her?
  3. What does it say about the true ethics of direct entry midwifery as a community when a midwife like Loprinzi is accepted as a teacher and sage, and quoted as an authority in scholarly publications, even after and in light of her egregious neglect of her patients?

The letter the mother wrote to investigators:

Kate’s resignation: