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controversial midwife gets support from Whistler Parents


Local home-birth advocates believe preventing Gloria Lemay from delivering babies limits their choice.


Whistler home-birth parents are rallying behind a controversial birth attendant who may face a jail sentence for allegedly practicing midwifery without official sanction.

" Gloria Lemay couldn't be any better at what she does," said Troy Assaly, who hopes Lemay will be able to deliver his second baby this month in his Whistler home.

Lemay delivered Assaly and wife Sheila's son Issac in Whistler two and a half years ago.

"I think it would be very difficult to find anybody who is as interested in what she is doing. She is committed to it. She does not care about money in the slightest and she would put your needs in front of her own any time."

Assaly was one of several Whistler parents who recently rallied outside of Vancouver's B.C. Supreme Courthouse to support Lemay.

She has been found guilty of criminal contempt, for breaking an injunction handed down in 2000, which ordered her to stop practising midwifery. Lemay was due to be sentenced last month, but the sentencing was delayed until May 16 after Lemay's lawyer argued for a new trial on technical grounds.

While she awaits sentencing she has been ordered by the court not to partake in any "birthing process" or even be in the presence of a pregnant woman.

The contempt charges stem from Lemay's refusal to register with the College of Midwives, legislated into existence in 1998, along with her continued presence at home-births.

The College sets standards and regulates the profession, which is now funded as part of the medical system. To practice midwifery in B.C. you must either have a bachelor of midwifery or a bachelor of health sciences in midwifery. Both are four-year degrees.

Lemay has neither. But she has delivered over 1,000 babies since she gave up work as a stockbroker in 1976 after an epiphany during her own home-birth.

If she wrote the College exams and passed she would be allowed to practice midwifery as long as she followed the rules.

Because of this refusal to register she breaks the law every time she acts as a midwife. Assaly believes Lemay's refusal to conform to College rules is rooted in her belief that the institution has moved too far from the traditions of midwifery.

" The college philosophy on birth is more similar to a doctors than it is to the original midwife, home-birth ideal," he said.

Lemay, said Assaly, firmly believes in doing what the parents wants. If that is a home-birth, great . But if parents want to go to a hospital that is fine too.