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As Old As Humanity: Community Midwife, Liz Catlin

Liz Catlin opened her door to a state trooper late one winter night. The four youngest of her fourteen children stood around her. She asked if she could call someone to stay with them. 

“That boy looks old enough to watch them,” he said and dragged her roughly, barefoot and without a coat, out into the snow. She asked for clothes, and the state trooper allowed one of the young daughters to pass her a pair of snow boots. 

Liz waited in the snow, surveying the scene around here. “Thirty years ago,”  she thought. “I’d be out here in handcuffs because of homeschooling, and they’d be taking the children away, too." They didn't seem to care that the children were underaged. They left them and brought Liz catlin to jail where they chained her to a wall until a warrant could be processed and issued for her arrest. 

She spent a day in jail that first time. Her community rallied together and raised enough money for bond, but just a month later she was arrested again and placed in her hometown jail where she stayed one more day and night. 

“What are YOU doing here, Mrs. Catlin?” the jailers asked among themselves. Liz Catlin was well known and widely loved for the many ways she'd served her community over the last twenty-five years. She told them, "I don't know!"

They put her in the best, most comfortable cell, where medical prisoners went, and she had unlimited access to Hallmark movies. 

Elizabeth Catlin, of Penn Yan, NY, was indicted with 95 charges, all having to do with helping women during pregnancy and childbirth, and faced a maximum prison sentence of 473 years. Among the charges were accusations of homicide and illegally practicing midwifery in the state of New York. She was accused of “impersonating a midwife” and exploiting the Mennonite community.

Liz estimates she's delivered approximately 500 babies. 

Her methods adhere to traditional practices of olden times and she is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM charging only a third to a half the normal fees that make most midwives unaffordable for many of her clients. 

Not a single client spoke out against Elizabeth Catlin. Mennonites don't often engage in government affairs and avoid political activism, but the women raised money for her bond, flooded the local papers with testimonies, and showed up to the court to support their midwife. “If they send you to prison,” they told their midwife, “We are going to be there with you.” This remarkable fact alone may be what saved Elizabeth Catlin from being unjustly sentenced because “Mennonite women never speak out”.

There were complications with the last birth Elizabeth Catlin assisted with before being first arrested. She advised the Mennonite couple to go to the hospital. The doctor never proposed a C-section, but let the birth progress naturally for two hours more until then performing a vacuum delivery. The baby died and the hospital filed charges against Liz, despite the parents demanding there be no charges. It is speculated that certain people in the hospital had been looking for a reason to incriminate Elizabeth Catlin, and they’d found one.   

Despite complete and constant support, Elizabeth Catlin was pressured by the court to accept a plea deal. She refused however to plead guilty when her conscience absolved her. Her resolution, and community support, have brought her victory. All but one charge has now been dropped due to no evidence. To the last charge, practicing midwifery without a New York license, she has pleaded guilty.

The sentencing is this December 14 at Yates County Court in Penn Yan, NY. Elizabeth Catlin faces five years probation or up to thirty days in county jail. Liz hopes she will receive no more than thirty days of community service, and the felony charge for practicing without midwifery will be expunged with a "Certificate of Relief." 

When asked if she will be able to do midwifery as community service, she laughed, "No. But I asked if what I do in my church counts, and it is. But what is interesting," she said. "During COVID the New York governor passed a temporary executive allowing people with out-of-state licenses to practice in New York."

"So while you were being prosecuted for illegally practicing midwifery you would have technically been able to legally practice midwifery?" 

"Correct," she said. 

Is this not the problem with tyranny, but that it is always ironic? And that after years of community service, having committed no real crime except having made a few progressives angry, she has lawyer debts to pay must serve her community a little more. 

“I will be allowed to have my pistol again,” Liz Catlin said. “And live a normal life again, and eventually have my midwifery license” 

Meanwhile, the fight is not over. Elizabeth Catlin continues to need her community’s support as she fights for the maternity rights of women. You can donate on her GoFundMe: 

To stay updated on the Community Midwifery Bill A7898, an endeavor to make it easier for midwives to comply with government regulation, follow her Facebook page: 

Melissa Carman and Lisa Horning of New York and Denise Midstokke of Idaho are three other midwives battling felony charges for practicing midwifery without the State’s sanction, and who are helping bring the Community Midwifery Bill to legislation. You can contact Elizabeth Catlin to learn more about their stories. 

But is not even this victory a bitter defeat? Are we free?

These stories will continue for as long as government bureaucrats have us convinced that we need licensing to practice basic rights. 

Who are they to say which women may attend one another, or even how? Who are they to prohibit anything as natural and as old as humanity? 


  1. Yay you posted it!!! Gosh, what a remarkable story. This woman is amazing. And society is pretty insane. (But it's a little comforting that it's always been at least a little insane, ever since the Fall of Man, right?)

    1. She is so amazing!

      If you'd like an update: the sentencing was the 14th. She has 5 years probation and 250 hours community service.


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