Negligence or not doing God's will
Two midwives who I blogged about before have been found guilty of practicing midwivery without a license. Linda and Tanya McGlade were sentenced to 30 months in prison and another two years of probation.
I feel sorry for most of the parties involved in this story. Even Tanya and Linda, for their malpractice led to the death of a mother and child. At the same time I'm angry with these two women, who put their religion first instead of ensuring Mara McGlade got the proper medical care she needed. Even in the bible, people sought help when ill. These two women seem to forgot that and two people are dead. From their actions neither McGlade sounds the least bit sorry. Maybe a few years in jail will change their minds but I hardly think it will. God will pass final judgement on Linda and Tanya McGlade. It is liable to make both women very unhappy.
Open Post- Right Wing Nation, TMH's Bacon Bits,
BRADENTON - Proceeding piece by piece through a painstaking decision that no judge in Florida has yet had to make, a Bradenton circuit judge Thursday sentenced a mother and daughter-in-law to 30 months in prison and two years' probation for practicing midwifery without a license.
Linda McGlade, 54, and Tanya McGlade, 26, sat with their hands clasped together, waiting to be handcuffed, following the end of a nearly four-hour sentencing hearing that was the state's first for practicing midwifery without a license.
McGlade family members and friends marched up to a podium, one after another, defending the McGlade women as people of intense, unwavering faith who were deeply affected by the death of 25-year-old Mara McGlade two days after she gave birth in their home in December 2004. Mara McGlade was married and had two children with Keith McGlade, the son of Linda and Linda's husband, Tom. She died from uncontrolled bleeding after birth.
It was a case where a family's faith in God clashed heavily with Florida law.
"This case is not about the exercise of religious freedom," Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas said before rendering the sentence. "This is about your misguided belief that you could safely deliver babies without any training or expertise."
Nicholas said he was confident that if it weren't for the unlawful practice of midwifery, Mara McGlade would still be alive to take care of her two children.
He said there was no question that the McGlade women - even though they argued otherwise - were, for all intents and purposes, midwives. They wore scrubs, gloves, used baby scales, checked the mother's cervix, told her when to push and when not to push, Nicholas said.
He called the evidence of guilt "overwhelming" and said he simply did not understand how they could wait so long to call for help when Mara McGlade was in obvious need of medical attention. Nicholas also said he didn't understand how the McGlade women could reject a plea deal - after seeing all of the state's evidence - that would have spared them jail time and given them community supervision. Finally, he said, he couldn't comprehend why they would attempt to deliver Mara's baby without expertise when they knew that her first birth had serious complications.
The sentence Nicholas rendered will now be looked at as precedent in cases that may come up in the future.
Jay Wolfson, a professor of law at Stetson University College of Law and a professor of public health and medicine at the University of South Florida, said the state has a compelling interest to intervene when a person's health is in danger.
"The purpose of the law is not to take religious prerogative away from people, but to protect the general public health of the people," Wolfson said.
Nicholas was authorized by law to give the defendants up to five years in prison for their crime. But a number of factors weighed into his decision to be more lenient.
"Your family situation is obviously compelling," Nicholas said.
Linda McGlade is a mother of seven and a grandmother of nine. Tanya McGlade is a widowed mother of five children, all younger than seven. She lost her husband, Ryan, to cancer during the middle of the trial in April.
Neither woman had a criminal record. The family has contributed greatly to the community, including aiding those who were hit hard by Hurricane Charley in 2004.
Dozens of people, both family and friends, packed the courtroom Thursday to say that the McGlades didn't deserve to go to jail. Many said the McGlades, who have a documented history of protesting at abortion clinics around the state, are people who truly practice their Christianity.
"They serve another kingdom - one higher and greater than this court," said Rachel McGlade, Tanya's sister-in-law. "The only crime my mother and Tanya committed is treating their neighbor as themselves."
Keith McGlade, who testified that he and his wife made the decision to have their baby at home without pressure from the McGlades, said he, his wife and the defendants had been following God's wishes.
"My wife just followed the Lord with everything she had," he said. "We have to stand for him (God)."
Colleen Glenn, the McGlades' attorney during the sentencing phase, said it had been a "pleasure" to get to know them, and said that if she hadn't been there as their lawyer, she would have been there as their friend.
Both Linda and Tanya McGlade addressed the court Thursday, but were barely audible through tears and low voices to spectators seated behind them.
Mara's family members testified on behalf of the prosecution, saying that the McGlades' lack of care and irresponsibility for Mara warranted a prison sentence.
Danielle Spangle, Mara's older sister who traveled from California to be at the trial and the sentencing, said: "I think Judge Nicholas was extremely fair and courteous and more than polite to both sides."
Spangle said it was good to hear someone else say that Mara would still be here if it weren't for the McGlades' breaking of the law. She was happy with the sentence, but would have preferred the full five years.
After leaving court, both families trickled outside to the courtyard in front of the Manatee County Courthouse. The McGlades gathered in a circle, softly singing a religious song.
Mara's family gathered a few yards away, grateful that, in their view, justice was served.