A Utah midwife is facing six months in prison after a newborn died in her care. And it’s the second time she has been charged with manslaughter of an infant she was hired to deliver.
Vicki Sorensen of Cedar City, Utah, was found guilty in October of manslaughter and reckless endangerment after a newborn died in 2012 at her Cedar City birthing center. According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, Sorenson told a judge she initially did not believe the mother was in labor, as it was two months prior to her due date. Prosecuting attorney Mike Edwards reportedly claimed Sorensen had used outdated equipment and methods to deliver and revive the child. A second twin was delivered successfully via Caesarean section after the mother was transported to the hospital.
At the October trial, jury members reportedly heard testimony from another midwife who said she advised Sorensen to get the mother to a hospital, and that Sorsensen ignored her advice, claiming she “felt good” about the delivery. Sorensen has 37 years of experience as a traditional midwife.
According to The Spectrum, Judge James Shumate said Sorensen’s was one of the most difficult cases he had ever seen. But he ultimately found that a brief prison sentence plus 36 months of probation was appropriate. “There were serious errors of judgement,” Shumate reportedly told Sorensen in the courtroom. “There was not a sufficient setting of urgency in your behavior (that) evening.”
Arguing for jail time, Edwards brought up a past instance of another infant’s death in Sorensen’s care.
“Take note that she has a history of hurting people,” Edwards reportedly. “I’m not saying she intended for anyone to die, but she has a history of hurting with her reckless conduct . . . This has to stop.”
Sorensen’s attorney Matthew Carling argued that the case against his client was a financially-motivated “witch hunt.”
“Twin births come at a premium in hospitals,” Carling reportedly said. “When competition appears, it must be eliminated . . . The county attorney’s decision to prosecute says midwives are a disposable and illegitimate position in Utah.”
Sorensen is now prohibited from practicing as a midwife or assisting in any deliveries outside those of blood relatives.
Photo: Iron County Sheriff’s Office