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January 18, 2013 05:51 PM

Irene Midwife Faces Charges In Baby Death

Custer County, NE

Judy Kay Jones of Irene is already banned from delivering babies in South Dakota.  Now she's charged in connection with the death of a newborn in Nebraska.

According to court papers filed in Custer County, Nebraska, Jones is now facing felony manslaughter charges in the death of Eli Fenske.  Prosecutors allege that Jones presented herself as a midwife to a Nebraska couple and assisted in the delivery of their baby in September of 2011. The infant later died.

The 65-year-old woman has been before South Dakota judges multiple times, beginning in 1993 when the woman who is a Certified Professional Midwife was first ordered to stop delivering babies in the state.

"There's a lot of movement toward home birth.  A lot of movement toward midwifery and I think this is going to cause some competition from the medical profession to say, 'Oh, we're going to have to do things more the way women want them done,'" Jones said in a 1994 interview with KELOLAND News.

Jones was also convicted of practicing without a license after the death of a Valley Springs boy 11 days after she attended his birth. She served 30 days in jail for that case.

"There's more of a movement for people to become involved in their own health care and take some responsibility for their own health care, rather than just handing it over to someone else," Jones said.

And in 2002, a Supreme Court order following her conviction on four counts of unlicensed midwifery was aimed at putting a stop to Jones' practice in South Dakota once and for all.

"I won't do any births in South Dakota and it just gives me great sorrow for the families of South Dakota that they now won't have anyone to attend them," Jones said after the 2003 sentencing.

Until this current case is decided, yet another judge is prohibiting Jones from practicing as a midwife--this time in Nebraska. 

But in a letter to one judge, Jones wrote that she believed that God was calling her to help in the childbirths of family and friends, writing, "I must be obedient to what the Lord tells me to do."

Jones is currently out on bond. She faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted.

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