Amish Midwives Face Felony Charges For Illegally Practicing Medicine (Updated)

Two Amish women in the Adams County, Indiana community face felony charges for illegally practicing medicine and administering medication.

Sylvia C. Eicher and Lydiann S. Schwartz were investigated in May 2017 over two separate incidents.

In both cases the women had administered veterinary medications to their patients.

Schwartz was investigated after a 14-day-old baby died of congenital heart disease after being rushed to the local hospital.

She had administered a Phenylketonuria test to the infant as well as an IV to the mother. Further details from WANE:

Schwartz described the IV to police as a “veterinary ‘pit,’” or Pitocin, according to the affidavit.

Police asked Schwartz if she’d been medically certified and she said a Willshire, Ohio doctor taught her how to give IVs, the affidavit said.

The child’s mother and father said they paid Schwartz $550, which also included check-ups, the affidavit said.

Eicher, who described herself as a “mother’s helper”, came under scrutiny after police learned of a pregnant woman who had received injections from her:

Police then went to the woman’s home. There, she told police that earlier in the week, she woke up with swelling in her legs, and her husband said she should go to Eicher’s home for treatment. The woman said Eicher directed her to go to the hospital, where doctors induced labor at 33 weeks, the affidavit said.

Police then asked about the injections. The woman said Eicher had given her injections on two different occasions “for the baby’s lungs” previously and she was not aware of the name of the medication, the affidavit said.

Police went to a building Eicher used as a clinic of sorts and found Eicher and her husband there. Eicher told police she “may have (given injections) and she didn’t remember,” the affidavit said. Eicher said she sees “so many women that she didn’t remember,” the affidavit said.

Eventually, Eicher admitted to the injections, according to the affidavit. She told investigators that she gives “vet medicine” injections in the hip area to help “mature the lungs.”

Where do Amish women give birth?

Amish women have their babies in different settings, including hospitals and birthing centers.

Home delivery is quite common, particularly in some communities.

Amish value this service for several reasons, including cost and being able to remain in a familiar home environment.

However, the quality of care can vary.

Responsible midwives team with doctors and other medical professionals to be able to handle emergencies, and for procedures that they are not qualified to perform.

Perhaps the most famous example is detailed in the book House Calls and Hitching Posts.

It tells of the career of Dr. Elton Lehman, who teamed with Amish midwife “Bill” Barb Hochstetler to deliver many babies in the Holmes County community.

Amish Birthing Center
New Eden Care Center, in Lagrange County, Indiana

Amish birthing centers such as those in Holmes County and northern Indiana also work together with certified medical professionals to ensure adequate care. As noted in An Amish Paradox, some of these centers have a stronger formal medical connection than others.

In this report at least, there is no indication of a similar relationship between the Adams County women and certified medical practitioners.

Perhaps there was. But in any case it sounds like the women were doing some things that they weren’t supposed to be doing. There may have been serious consequences as a result.

In particular, Eicher’s failure to remember and then avoiding admitting to giving injections suggests that she knew this practice was not above-the-board.

The two midwives have reportedly been practicing for decades, and have delivered hundreds of babies. So it’s likely they were able to perform their services adequately on the whole.

However, you still have to wonder how many other cases there may have been where the mother’s or the infant’s health was negatively affected.

Midwives to the Amish have faced prosecution in the past. In this case from 2007, however, the (non-Amish) woman in question had undergone a 3-year apprenticeship, was certified by a national organization, and had over 25 years of experience. The issue in that case was practicing without a state license.

Schwartz and Eicher have been released on bail, and will appear in Adams County Court this morning.

Update: as reported at, the two women appeared in court Friday:

The two appeared in court Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. where they pleaded not guilty.  Both of them decided to represent themselves.

When the judge asked both women their highest level of education, Eicher replied 12th grade and Schwartz said 6th grade.

There was a strong showing of support from the Amish community at Friday’s initial hearing. At least 40 people could be seen in the courtroom.

After the hearing, Eicher told NewsChannel 15 that she has been delivering babies for 37 years. She and Schwartz taught themselves how. Eicher claims they have delivered thousands of babies in the Amish community.

She said the medicines they use during child birth come from a veterinarian but did not say which one. Eicher said it was never her intention to hurt anybody and that she has saved thousands of lives.

The women claim to have been operating under the guidance of at least two local doctors.

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    1. Mrs Lydiann Schwartz -- a personal statement

      Having worked with Mrs Sam Lydiann over several years on medical and genetics projects, I think the world of her. When I knew her best, ten years ago, her back-ups with licensed medical practitioners seemed in good order. I hope that nothing bad will come of this for her, her family, or the people in the settlements that she has long served well.

      1. Alex, thanks for sharing that. I noted in the post that these women probably have done well enough at this job for long enough to suggest they know what they are doing (even if some of their practices turn out to be illegal and probably not the optimal way to go about things).

        Home midwife delivery by its nature is comparatively riskier than hospital birth but the risks can be minimized as seen in other Amish examples.

        But I think a lot of that depends on proximity to higher-level medical care. Sounds like according to you there was some sort of association with licensed medical people for Lydiann at least.

        1. Alex Knisely

          Erik, yer a pal

          Thanks for your comment.

          That people who don’t know Mrs Sam are quick to condemn her does not surprise me. But it saddens me.

          I have in another contribution, “awaiting moderation” — I went on at some length, indignation does that — given the reasons why Mrs Sam would have had pitocin in her medicine chest and why she was only prudent to have learned how to start an intravenous line. Your choice on whether or not to present that to your audience.

          Be well.

          Alex K

        2. Alex Knisely

          Well, Erik, looks as if you've declined to post my contribution on pitocin, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and the like

          A shame.

          Too much fact?

          1. Alex Knisely

            WHOOPS ! ! ! Sorry ! ! !

            Erik, my comment disappeared… and is now back and in RED LETTERS.

            I am sorry for the quick few lines above.


            1. A note on comments in moderation

              Just a note for anyone else who might have this situation – most comments are posted immediately, but sometimes comments land in moderation and I’m not exactly sure why (sometimes even from regular commenters who have many approved comments). This has to do with something on the blog software side and is not within my control.

              I appreciate when commenters are civil but generally only block comments which have foul language, obscenities, etc. I check moderation regularly, but I’m not on it 24/7, so if a comment is under moderation, I will review and approve it as soon as I reasonably can.

      2. Brenda Hine


        If a person has so much as handed another person an aspirin it’s practicing medicine without a license . We are all guilty of it.
        So if anything I could see negligence type charge .

      3. Elizabeth

        Alex K

        I spoke with Lydiann and told her your comments on this site. She thanks you and told me what you sent to her. She was unable to read the return address if you would like to e mail your address I will send on to her as I will be mailing her a letter shortly. To verify I’m for real I can tell you in the e mail what you sent and if you would tell me the two countries listed on the back of envelope so I ll know it is really you. Can’t be to careful Thank you again of you support

      4. Ethan

        I agree

        I have known, and LIVED IN THEIR HOME, for years, she has never EVER tried to do anything but good. This breaks my heart. I have seen her care in action and while I have not been home in years, I utterly support my Mom. A huge THANKYOU to everyone on here that supports trying to have a friend of mine from Portland take a cell phone to her so I can talk. Be blessed everyone.
        ‘ETHAN TUDOR W.

    2. If guilty they must face the penalty

      If these women are found guilty, they must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and do some serious hard time. Imagine, “vet” medication being injected. They are not going to be able to do this again, and it will send a message to many in our plain communities. Church discipline should also be administered.

    3. What is Pitocin?

      The link below describes Pitocin, which is a synthetic version of Oxytocin given to help start contractions. Apparently only available via prescription.

      It’s described in the report that what Lydiann Schwartz was using is “veterinary”…I don’t know if that indicates any actual difference in the drug vs. the “human” version, or maybe a difference in dosage size, or if it would be otherwise identical.

      Pitocin, a brand name drug, is the synthetic version of oxytocin, a natural hormone that helps your uterus contract during labor. Oxytocin is secreted as your body readies for childbirth, but if you aren’t contracting quickly enough or aren’t in labor at all and need to deliver for health reasons, Pitocin can be administered as a medication to kick start those contractions.

      And here is the FDA info on Pitocin which includes this warning:


      Pitocin, when given for induction of labor or augmentation of uterine activity, should be
      administered only by the intravenous route and with adequate medical supervision in a

    4. Jim

      Another report that makes me think...

      If they have administered veterinary medications,, then they need to face charges. But if, like most “news” these days, they are just tossing terms around to harass the Amish then I would hope the Amish would take a stand for these women.

      It seems like here and in other local news in my area (I am in the center of the Amish / Mennonite area of Ohio) the Anabaptist way of life is slowly coming under attack….not a good thing. Even to I am not Anabaptist in these groups terms, I do respect their way of life and their right to live it without being harassed.

    5. Vet meds

      Actually, veterinary medicine is identical to human medicine.. the dosage changes according to weight, no matter what it is.
      You can get animal medicine without a prescription and as you know, much human medicine you need a script for. It’s redily available to farm communities to take care of their own medicine and ALL farm communities used to self-doctor and probably still does. Who would pay $100 for a doctor visit and drugs when you have them in your barn frig already.
      The US has lost a lot of common Sense in the last 20 or 30 years.

      1. Dosage packaging

        Thanks for the comment Kim. When I mentioned dosage I had in mind how the drugs are packaged.

        For example, during the recent flu season I was prescribed a medication taken via an inhaler, at a certain dosage (lets say 200mg, I can’t remember exactly).

        However there was a shortage of this size dosage at local pharmacies, though they did have 400mg sizes.

        They wouldn’t sell that to me for obvious reasons (they have to fulfill what’s on the prescription), but the logical reason underpinning it was the presumed difficulty in portioning this medicine to the right dosage, particularly when given via an inhalant method (frankly I don’t think it would be that big a deal to do in this case, but I get the logic behind it).

        If the dosage is packaged in a size that suits a human, it would make human error less likely, which let’s say could occur by accidentally administering a full dosage of a drug packaged in a size intended for a cow or some many-times-larger-than-a-human animal.

    6. NO free Pass

      Although I lived among the Mennonite community of Sarasota FL for many years, and support their rights to worship as they please, the two midwife’s actions are a grave overreach and incredibly dangerous.
      Laws by state vary; in general, no one except for an MD, NP, RN or individual who has a specific license (and training) to start an IV has the ability by law to insert an IV line. The fact they ‘may’ have administered meds approved for use on animals is a different matter entirely and also deeply disturbing.
      Drawing blood is one thing, it’s a quick in and out and very different from an IV which stays in for a longer period of time, thus increasing the risk of infection and complications.
      I appreciate expectant mothers want the freedom to choose where they deliver their babies, with or without pain medicine, and that access to hospitals may vary depending on where you live. Despite the fact thousands of babies are born every day, giving birth is THE single most dangerous thing a woman can do, even in a country like the United States which has more access to emergency services and health care.
      Just because the women are Amish doesn’t give them the right to potentially endanger a person’s life. If things go sideways, as they can do and quickly during a birth, you can’t order another baby from a Sears catalog. Babies are precious and irreplaceable, why risk it?

      1. You are absolutely right

        These women are simply out of order. They have stepped beyond the boundaries of the faith. Most Amish and other Plain People would be horrified at the use of vet medicines on human beings. They most certainly are not identical. This is beyond what is acceptable. If they are found guilty they will likely have to do some hard time. The courts will examine all the facts and decide accordingly. They do not have strong support among the faithful. Most are horrified at what they are reading, and hope and pray these women did not do these things. They do not represent anything Amish. This is very non-Amish and should be noted accordingly. Indeed, the Amish are saddened and disappointed.

        1. Kate F.

          But aren’t you overlooking the fact these were Amish midwives giving this to Amish patients? I don’t approve, but really this IS an Amish thing. I’m just saying…

        2. Alex Knisely

          Whoa, Terry. Judge much?

          Just to remind you, “Min.” — “Minister”? — Matthew 7:1-5. You don’t remember? Here it is —

          [1] Judge not, that ye be not judged.
          [2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
          [3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
          [4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
          [5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

          Now, Terry. THINK rather than react. You’re a midwife. You know that women in childbirth get into trouble. Bleeding, in particular — a lax uterus, failing to contract, and the vessels — enlarged physiologically, normally, that pass through the uterine wall to feed the placenta are not being clamped off by uterine contractions. Pitocin stimulates uterine contractions. Pitocin makes the smooth muscle of the uterine wall, through which those vessels pass, contract, and thus slows the bleeding. That woman in your birthing facility needs fluid replacement. That woman in your birthing facility needs pitocin. And, dollars to doughnuts, the only difference between VET PITOCIN and HUMAN PITOCIN is the expense and the access. One is available to every farmer. The other requires a physician / surgeon and a pharmacist. But the hormones are, again dollars to doughnuts, the same stretch of amino-acid residues. And they WORK the same.

          Mrs Sam Lydiann showed me around her facility. She had oxygen tanks. She had bags of IV fluid, she had IV tubing, she had needles. She had been trained, she said to me, by a physician who was happy to have her help in attending women in childbirth, in how to use them. And she said that she was ready to call the rescue when something went wrong. Yes, she had a cellphone.

          Now let’s look at the story of the baby who had congenital heart disease and who got into trouble some days after leaving Lydiann’s facility. Terry, do you know about hypoplastic left heart syndrome? SURE you do. But let me remind you. The flow of blood within the heart and great vessels is different before birth from after birth. Here’s a précis from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) —

          “In a baby without a congenital heart defect, the right side of the heart pumps oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs. The left side of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. When a baby is growing in a mother’s womb during pregnancy, there are two small openings between the left and right sides of the heart: the patent ductus arteriosus and the patent foramen ovale. Normally, these openings will close a few days after birth.

          “In babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart cannot pump oxygen-rich blood to the body properly. During the first few days of life for a baby with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the oxygen-rich blood bypasses the poorly functioning left side of the heart through the patent ductus arteriosus and the patent foramen ovale. The right side of the heart then pumps blood to both the lungs and the rest of the body. However, among babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, when these openings close, it becomes hard for oxygen-rich blood to get to the rest of the body.”

          Now we come to “when these openings close”. Then the baby experiences an episode of low blood pressure, which leads to accumulation of carbon dioxide within tissues, which leads to acidosis, which leads to — surprise! — these openings again OPENING. And the baby perks right up. Over days, it’s crash and bounce; crash and bounce… and doesn’t that sound like what happened with the baby in whose Mrs Schwarz is accused of medical impropriety? The CDC gives the incidence of hypoplastic left heart syndrome as one in 4,300 births. And the baby looks and behaves normally. Until it crashes.

          Between you and me, Terry, I think that Mrs Sam probably got slammed for a post-natal complication of congenital heart disease by people who have been lying in wait for her for a long, long time.

          Who might those people be? Again, THINK, Terry. A hospital birth in Indiana costs around $6,300. Mrs Sam asked for $500 and change. Don’t you imagine that the doctors in Adams County, in Jay County, have been seething as they watch all those fat fees vanishing?

          My heart goes out to Lydiann Schwartz. As for you, Terry… Show me you HAVE a heart. Then we’ll talk.

          1. What REALLY is your interest in all of this?

            Nice try, my friend. Your opinion is just as welcome as any other, of course, but I am not convinced by anything you have written. What REALLY is your interest in all of this? As I said, guilt or innocence will be determined by the jury, and we will abide by their lawful decision. Many of us are more than a little unhappy with the way some of our people are trying to pass themselves off as medics or health experts, and have only an eighth grade education. This is very unAmish and their extremist actions are not appreciated by most of the Plain People. This will probably be a matter for church discipline. As for the legal implications, the courts will decide, and the bishops will rule on the religious aspects. The Amish know exactly how to deal with these extremes. God will give them true wisdom,and it will always be administered in love, nonetheless the flock must be protected.

            1. AJ

              “Our people”? Are you saying you are Amish or something?

            2. Dirk

              Dear Terry Miller, stop trying to pass yourself off as knowledgeable about the Old Order groups, your negative comments above prove that you are very ignorant concerning the minds and thoughts of the Old Order groups.

              The fact these women have been delivering babies for decades, should have told you that they do so with the church’s blessing. So where do you come with the idea that their church will be disciplining them?
              You comments also indicate a lack of knowledge about living on a farm or about a farming lifestyle. BTW – I use animal veterinary products and find them more effective than their human counterparts, as do many Old Order farmers. So your assertions that they were doing something wrong or something strange by using vet products, is completely unfounded. As is your comment that their Amish church is shocked by it. FYI – It’s not. And neither are any other Amish.

              I have noticed in other posts elsewhere that you assume to speak on behalf of the Old Orders, please do not, you clearly have minimal knowledge and understanding of what it means to belong to an Old Order group.
              Rather stick to your own group and what they teach and stop speaking on behalf of others, because as you can see, your comments are starting to irritate those on whose behalf you presume to speak. So just stop.

            3. Elizabeth

              Alex is correct

              Everything Alex has said is correct. I have known Lydiann for 45 years. She was trained by a Dr. that was highly accredited and held in high esteem in that area. The Church has been behind her 100% Thank you Alex for your support of a wonderful caring lady who at 73 is still working because THEY want her to keep working. Her success rate for deliverying healthy babies and having healthy moms is above par. She was doing what the DOCTOR told her she could.

              1. I like your comment Elizabeth and I agree with what you wrote.

            4. Mary the Mennonite

              Missing the Point

              You have more faith in these bishops and ministers than I have for doing the right thing!
              Min. Terry Miller has used the word “most Anabaptists” “most Amish” etc etc. This particular community hasn’t been like “most” Anabaptists for quite some time!! If the bishops or ministers would have had the best interest of the mothers and babies at heart years ago they would have welcomed the person that offered to build a building and give training to these very women. But no, they thought they knew better and would not “allow” the training or building for these ladies. So they made them keep doing this birthing procedure fully understanding it was illegal. “Most” of the ladies using this facility and services had no choice in the matter! If they would have gone to a hospital to give birth they probably would have been required to make a “confession” (that one of the leaders wrote for them) to the church they attend. Power and control! I’ve talked to some of the women who went to these women for help and not all did so willingly.
              It is about time that these bishops and ministers and leaders are held accountable too. They would have made life hell for these two ladies had the ladies accepted this concerned person offer to build the building and help with their training.
              Now these very bishops and ministers are requiring these women to NOT hire an attorney. It is my understanding they have had another offer – one from an attorney to help them and to put blame where it belongs.
              I certainly don’t agree with what these two ladies did but I understand why they are in the position they are. If a few of these bishops had to spend some time in prison, perhaps they wouldn’t encourage their church members to break the laws of our land! Whether it be sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse or practicing medicine without a license.

      2. Alex Knisely

        Ma'am, when you have met Mrs Schwartz and have seen her set-up, then you should feel free to talk

        As it is, though, you’re spinning wisps and clouds of condemnation. I think that you should stand back from your readiness to condemn.

    7. Emily

      Unusual midwifery practice?

      I can’t claim to be all the way up-to-date on midwifery practice, but I have read some memoirs and other articles. To my knowledge, while nurse-midwives (who are fully licensed as RNs before receiving midwifery training) might prescribe medications, standard direct-entry midwife (meaning people with no medical training beyond attending births) practice for delivery was minimal intervention/no drugs.

      Pitocin *strongly* stimulates contractions and can make labor very painful, over and above “normal” labor pains, so it is normally administered alongside an epidural (pain block). I’m very surprised these midwives would have received training from physicians in how to administer medications when they wouldn’t have the medical training in how to make sure the medication didn’t affect an underlying condition the pregnant woman might have. If they are prosecuted, I hope the prosecutors also track down and investigate charges against the doctors who trained the midwives–I doubt they decided to start giving IVs and injections on their own.

      1. Alex Knisely

        Reasons for administering pitocin post-partum rather than intra-partum

        Emily, what you write about administration of pitocin during childbirth is more-or-less accurate. But you don’t take into account the use of pitocin, after delivery, to stem uterine bleeding.

        You write that you’re not up to date on midwifery practices. OK. You surely don’t know the particulars of the birth of the child whose death brought THE LAW swooping down onto Mrs Sam Lydiann.

        But you feel free to condemn her.


        1. Min. Terry Miller

          You seem to have a problem with "the law"

          My friend, I am very concerned about the things you are saying. Do you have a problem with “the law”??? Anabaptists are very particular about the importance of obeying the laws of the land and are generally known as good, law-abiding citizens. You sound somewhat judgmental concerning the authorities, or do I misunderstand what you are trying to say? It seems when some here do not agree with you that you are very quick to judge, at the same time telling them not to judge. The fate of these women is now in the hands of the authorities. They will investigate thoroughly and they will determine according to “the law” just what is to be done next. We will pray that they will do what is right, and that God will give them wisdom. As for the church, the bishops and ministers will also depend on our Heavenly Father for wisdom in how to help these “sisters”, and if discipline is necessary, it will be done carefully and in love.

          1. AJ

            So… you ARE Amish? You are calling them “sisters”?

            1. Alex Knisely

              Terry, I don't lead with my credentials --

              — so unlike “Min. Terry Miller” I’m just “Alex Knisely”, and not, till now, “Alex Knisely, MD”. Thirty-five years in practice. Glad to have that out of the way.

              “I am not convinced by anything you have written”, you say. A shame. But, then, it’s so much easier to judge, and to condemn, when you don’t know the people or the circumstances. Facts would just get in your way. I haven’t mis-represented the uses of pitocin, or the need for intravenous access when a mother (or a baby) crashes, or the manifestations of congenital heart disease. If you want to educate yourself…

              What’s my interest in Mrs Schwartz? The same as it would be for any other Amishman or Amishwoman whom I’ve worked alongside and come to like. She’s in trouble. Yes, she’s in trouble because she broke a law. Luke 14:5 — Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? Against the law to do that, you know… My bet is that OBGYNs working out of Vormohr Medical Center down in Portland or Adams County Hospital up in Decatur saw a lot of money NOT coming their way and sicced THE LAW on Mrs Sam Lydiann.

              It will all come out in the wash, of course. But to equate THE LAW with justice, or with kind, right, and proper action… that’s a Pharisee’s way of living, Terry. Christ set us a different example.

            2. Yoder in Ohio

              No, he is not Amish. He did not give an answer to your questions but I am Amish and I can tell you he is not. An Amish minister would never use his “title” for it would seem boastful or proud and that position is a position of humility. If someone outside the church asks “Are you a minister?” that is different. Also an Amish person would know that calling someone not in your church a “brother” or “sister” can be offensive and would also know that substituting vet medicine is not uncommon. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is really not that rare. I would not do it myself! But I know people who have. “Min.” Miller writes the Amish are horrified and hope and pray this is not true or something similar. There are way too many Amish and way too many viewpoints to make such a general comment. I have heard some who feel the women definitely did wrong and feel they are in the wrong and there are others who feel the women did nothing wrong. It’s NOT a black and white issue in MANY different ways.

              1. AJ

                Thanks, Yoder, for clarifying that. Something just seemed “out of character” in the comments.

              2. The Anabaptist Movement includes many

                Dear “Yoder”, It’s good to read a comment by a self-identified Amish man. Which Old Order group is your “home church”?

                I have never claimed to be a member (or a minister) of the Old Order Amish, but I have been an Anabaptist most of my life, and a minister for over 50 years. Some may not realize the Anabaptist family includes the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, and numerous independent off-shoots. Spiritually we are cousins. Collectively these groups are frequently referred to as “our people”. Most are Plain Churches, but not all. The core Anabaptist faith teachings and beliefs remain the same in all of the groups, such as mutual aid, community, pacifism (nonresistance), simplicity of life, nonconformity, adult baptism and solid commitment to the teachings of Holy Scripture.

                Dear Yoder, as you know over the years many “outsiders” have tried to “use” the Plain People for their own purposes, which may not always be honorable. Many have been manipulated, used and misguided by wolves in sheep clothing. The guidance and wisdom of the bishops and ministers has been very important in guiding the flock in a responsible way, and saved many from destruction. As I have stated many times, I have full confidence the bishops will take a close look at this case also, and will guide the “sisters” in the right way. All legal aspects will be dealt with by the courts, which Anabaptists respect highly. Should (?) any form of church discipline be necessary, it would be applied by the bishops, in love, for the purpose of correction. That is the Anabaptist way.

                1. Yoder in Ohio

                  I am just regular Old Order (some people would say main-line or general-run). Things must be very different in your area — even the more liberal Mennonites here do not use “minister” as a self-identifying label. I get what you mean about using “our people” for ALL Anabaptists but I think it muddies the water — there are too many differences for me to feel comfortable with that way of using it. In our area we use it to mean a certain group so that there is not confusion. I would not use “our people” to include New Order or Beachy groups — I’d say “Amish in general” or “some Amish” or “many Amish.” On a place like this more detailed labels are kind of important so people don’t get confused.

                  1. AJ

                    The our-people label really was confusing. Too all-encompassing maybe? I mean that is covering everything from liberal Mennonites to Swartzentrubers if you apply it to all Anabaptists.

                  2. Dirk

                    Yes, correct Mr. Yoder in Ohio. Terry Miller’s insistence on using the term “our people” is just wrong, and shows a complete lack of understanding of the Old Order group’s view of religion, along with the other things you pointed out above, such as his use of his title “minister”, makes me think Terry Miller has a lot of learning yet to do regarding Old Order groups.

                    And I suspect he is not going to like what he finds. Not with his all inclusive “our people” view of the faith, or his ignorance of the irrelevance of secular law in the lives of Old Order groups.

    8. chris roberts

      Post partum pitocin

      I am a licensed midwife, my license clearly states that Pitocin is only given postpartum to stop bleeding, we are strictly forbidden to use prescription meds to augment or start labor.

      1. Thanks for sharing Chris. Do you know, would the scope of what a licensed midwife could legally do vary from state to state? Or is it pretty universal nationwide?

    9. Comment from a Lancaster County midwife serving the Plain community

      The comment below was shared about this issue on Facebook. I asked Danielle for permission to share it here, to give the perspective of one person who works as a midwife in the Plain community:

      Danielle Farmer Malik I am a midwife in Lancaster County, serving the Plain community, and I have friends in the area where this is occurring, who know these midwives and their outcomes.

      It’s very challenging for state oversight departments to balance freedom of religion for communities hiring their own midwives and regulation. In Pa, we have numerous Plain midwives practicing, esp in the center of the state that would not meet the most basic education requirement. While birth is a normal physiological process, there is basic anatomy and physiology/pharmacology that one must to understand in order to practice safely.

      The truth is poor outcomes happen often in these communities, because 1) the Plain community is frugal so they will hire the cheapest midwife, even if she is not the safest. 2) the eschew the medical model of care as a general rule, even at times when medical intervention is wise. And 3) in the event of a poor outcome they will take responsibility for the choices they made and would never put the blame on a midwife.

      Midwifery in the Plain community is not like midwifery in the general population. The answers are not cut and dried and sometimes it’s difficult to find a balance between respecting the community and requiring a minimum level of safety.

    10. Maureen

      Midwifery in the Christian Farm Communities

      I work among the Mennonite and Amish – in Chrisitian farm communities.

      Just recently an Amish farmer broke his wrist and a Baptist farmer grabbed a piece of wood, set the Amish farmer’s wrist on it, and wrapped it. Back to work they went. There have been many incidents where farmers have shared their home made salves, potions and tonics for relief and fixes. I used to work at Belmont Raceway — same thing there for generations – everyone used these homemade concoctions on both man, and horse! “No reason to bother a doctor, was their motto!” Swear by these home-made medicines!

      The Chrisitan farm communities I’ve been affiliated with [for over a dozen years] generally use a midwife and her assistant. They are Mennonites who are trained, licensed, and associated with a licensed clinic and/or hospital. Having said that, in one remote place this past January an Amish woman delivered her baby [who was early] and was assisted solely by her eldest daughter of 12. Thereafter, the baby never went to the hospital and this is a customary practice here; part of their culture.

      Most of these Christian women have home births. However, I’ve known some Amish women, sub-groups notwithstanding, who have insisted on a hopistal delivery.

      In America no one is above the law. But I was thinking, is that Baptist farmer breaking the law for having “set” the Amish farmer’s wrist on a board? I absoutely know the Amish farmer never went to a doctor. His wrist is as right as rain. And is the 12 year-old-daughter in any trouble? I hope not.

      I had an emergency C-section and then two subsequents. This is part of my culture. But having been exposed to different views of how to walk through life, it seems there’s no wrong way. We all know well that there are many different birthing methods; mostly women know well. My culture for three generations has gone to hospitals to have babies. If I were Amish or in a religious community where home deliveries were my culture, than that is what I probably would feel most comfortable doing.

      Any woman with child, should have the choice. This is America!

    11. Update

      Just updated the post (see above) with additional information following the women’s Friday court appearance.

      The women claimed “to have been operating under the guidance of at least 2 local doctors.” Eicher confirmed that the medicines were from a veterinarian, and that she had delivered thousands of babies in the community. In the courtroom was “a strong showing of support from the Amish community.”

      Those details from:

      1. Kate F.


        Min. Terry Miller wrote:

        They do not have strong support among the faithful. Most are horrified at what they are reading, and hope and pray these women did not do these things. They do not represent anything Amish. This is very non-Amish and should be noted accordingly. Indeed, the Amish are saddened and disappointed.

        But now we read there was a strong show of support from the Amish community and I hear the same thing from my Amish neighbors — strong support.

        So color me “confused.”

        1. A reader

          The Amish in our area are standing squarely behind the midwives. I haul Amish and I have mixed feelings about the charges like the difference I see in the comments on here but the Amish here are so far supporting the midwives.

        2. Clearing things up....

          What most Amish, Mennonites, and other Plain Peoples are objecting to is the use of vet (animal) medicines on pregnant women. That is considered over the edge by any of “our people” that I’ve talked with. These women are not horses or pigs. No medical doctor is prescribing or recommending horse and hog medicines for pregnant women.

          1. Dirk

            Clearing things up... comment

            The only people shocked and protesting about using animal vet products on humans is you and other non-farming people.
            Most Old Order groups use animal vet products all the time for various aches and ills, either in their original form or mixed in with a home remedy.
            To state that it is considered over the edge by “plain people”, is just untrue. Such a concept exists only in your head.

            Kindly stop trying to push your personal beliefs across under the guise that they have the support and agreement of the Old Orders. They do not.

            1. To the Amish driver, Mr. Dirk....

              It’s interesting to read the thoughts of an “driver” of Amish. Allow me to clarify a few things: Please understand, sir, our people (including most Plain People and their many offshoots) have never had and do NOT have any objection to midwives and home births. None. What is objected to by many is the use of horse and hog vet medications to treat pregnant women. That IS illegal and dangerous. That is why this matter is before the authorities. MOST Plain People respect the law of the land, and obey the law, and are very careful to do so. You self identify yourself as a driver of Amish. That’s nice, but with all due respect, I’ll guarantee most Amish and other Plain Groups are not telling you as an outsider what they really think, but among the wider Anabaptist community, Amish and otherwise, there is much interior discussion going on. It’s hard to find anyone who believes it is legal to inject hog and horse medicine into the bodies of anybody other than farm animals, and even that requires carefulness. The world’s court will decide the legality of this one, and rightfully so, but the moral aspects will be looked into by the bishops, who I understand they are already at work, and their decisions will be made in Christian love and with compassion and helpfulness. Outsiders, including the drivers of Amish, won’t be included in the decision making. I trust the wisdom of the bishops and the order of the church.

              For your information, I spent most of my life on the farm. I know all about the farm and rural life, and we never gave or would even consider giving hog and horse medicine to humans, and certainly NEVER pregnant women. I have never been a baptized member of the Old Order or Beachy Amish, but I’m an Anabaptist believer in Jesus Christ, the son of God and Savior of all who believe. As an Anabaptist, I consider all of our people (Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites and all related groups) to be Christian brothers and sisters in Chirst, even though we may relate to many different groups. We share common roots, and the basic beliefs have the same origin. Like many, my “Pennsylvania Dutch” ancestors who came from Europe were among those who settled Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and many went on to Ohio and other states. I was elected and ordained as a prediger (Minister) in what many considered an “old order” Anabaptist community almost 50 years ago, so I am not a beginner in this Way. Thank you very much.

              1. Yoder in Ohio

                Min. Terry Miller — you hit the nail on the head — outsiders are not involved in the decision making. I say again your saying “our people” is not accurate. Your view is not that of all Anabaptists. It’s irresponsible to say it that way. At the local coffee shop this morning I heard different kinds of Plain People discussing this with very different viewpoints. Lumping everyone together is not fair or accurate and is offensive. How can you speak for those who have opinions that are not matching up with yours? Are they not Anabaptists also?

              2. A reader

                Min. Terry Miller, I am not Amish, so I am an outsider as are you. I would not presume to talk for my Amish passengers in a way that suggests I am their spokeswoman. With all due respect, they seem to be telling me more than they are telling you. Some of my passengers have become good friends over the years and among the many topics we have discussed is childbirth. Have you actually discussed this subject with Amish people? I have and I can assure you there is a lot of support for the midwives. I dare say those midwives may have delivered babies to the wives of the bishops involved. Notice the word “may.” You and I are both outsiders and we are not involved in the decision making. You are right on that point! On the other hand, the discussions I am having with my Amish friends, neighbors and passengers (who are often also friends & neighbors) seem to be giving me a much more accurate insight into this matter. You are over-simplifying it and presumptuous to speak for everyone who is Anabaptist and even more so to presume to speak for the Amish when you are not Amish yourself.