Midwife denies performing Pa. abortion

January 07, 1997


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County midwife says she did not perform a 1994 abortion that left a Pennsylvania woman infertile.

In a response to a lawsuit filed against her in Franklin County Court, Judith A. Mentzer says she believed Laurie Smith of Scotland, Pa., had had a miscarriage.

"If I believed there was even a chance I had caused the death of an unborn child I would stop delivering children," Mentzer said through her attorney, Richard Morris of Shippensburg, Pa.


In the court response, Mentzer said she acted as "as a reasonable midwife would act under the same or similar circumstances."

Laurie and Blaine Smith are suing Mentzer, claiming the midwife illegally performed the Dec. 6, 1994, surgery, court records say.

The couple blame Mentzer for the infection that left Smith, then 28, unable to have children, records say.

They say Mentzer misrepresented herself as a licensed professional.

Mentzer denies she mistreated Smith, according to court records.

Mentzer, a lay midwife who is not licensed by the state, said she tells all her patients that she is not licensed.

Mentzer says in court records that she believed Smith had suffered a miscarriage. She admits that she used ring forceps to remove placental tissue.

But she denies that it was an abortion.

Mentzer is still practicing lay midwifery, Morris said.

She has gotten support from her clients, many of whom are Amish or Mennonite, he said.

Mentzer has never been in trouble with Pennsylvania medical licensing agencies, officials said.

However, Mentzer received probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service in 1994 for practicing without a license in Carroll County, Md., said Donna Dorsey, executive director of the Maryland Nursing Board.

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