The Difficult Path of Illinois Midwives

Difficult Path
by Valerie Vickerman Runes

1899-1965
Illinois midwives are licensed and regulated. In 1965 the Illinois General Assembly abolishes the licensure of new midwives and only persons already licensed are allowed to practice midwifery.

1977-1982
A class action suit is filed by twelve Illinois midwives, seeking to have licensing restored, claiming that Illinois law unconstitutionally denies them their right to practice. The Court finds that a midwife “has no constitutional right to a separate license”.

1983
Midwife Hope Davis is indicted on charges of practicing midwifery and medicine without a license. Midwife Karen McDonald is set up by an investigator from the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation and is arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license.

1985
Midwife Maggie Jihan is arrested and charged with practicing midwifery without a license She was found guilty, and sentenced to six months of home confinement. She appealed, claiming that Illinois midwifery statute was unconstitutionally vague.

1988
Midwives Betty Peckmann and Kim Perry are arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license. In the Jihan case, the appellate court agreed that the midwifery statute failed to define the acts that were prohibited as the practice of midwifery, and reversed her conviction.

1989
The Illinois Supreme Court upholds the appellate court decision in Jihan’s case. Criminal charges against Peckmann and Perry are dropped, contingent upon the filing of a class action suit to clarify the status of Illinois midwifery.

1991
After being declared unconstitutionally vague as it applies to midwifery, the Illinois Medical Practice Act of 1987 is amended to include the “treatment of human conditions” as the practice of medicine.

1997-1999
After an undercover investigation by IDPR, midwives Jessica Defilippo, Vickii Gervais, Cindy Cornia, and Jackie Wallis are ordered to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of medicine.

Midwife Valerie Morris is ordered to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of medicine.

Orders to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of medicine are issued to doula Melissa Jankovic and midwife Joann Falcon.

2000
Midwife Valerie Morris receives a complaint from IDPR, charging her with violating the scope of her nursing license by practicing midwifery. She also receives another Cease and Desist order from IDPR, ordering her to cease the practice of midwifery.

Midwife Yvonne Cryns is ordered by IDPR to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of nursing and advanced practice nursing. She is also arrested and charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, in connection with a baby death in August.

IDPR issues a second complaint against Valerie Morris (now Runes), seeking to disciplinary action against her nursing license for “acting beyond its scope” by continuing to practice midwifery. She files suiit in U.S. Federal Court, charging that her civil rights have been violated by IDPR actions. The Court refuses to consider the case.

2001
In Cryns’ Lake County criminal trial, the jury returns with an acquittal of involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child, but is unable to reach a verdict on the second charge of involuntary manslaughter. Judge James Booras declares a mistrial.

2002
After an eight-day administrative hearing, IDPR requests that Valerie Runes’ nursing license be revoked.

Oral arguments are heard by the Illinois Supreme Court in Cryns’ appeal. Runes’ receives notice from IDPR that the nursing board has decided to “indefinitely suspend” her nursing license, fine her $2500, and require her to take a 12-hour ethics course.

2003
The Illinois Supreme Court agrees with the ruling by the appellate court, finding that “[A]ssessing a health-care need and making a nursing evaluation; promoting, maintaining and restoring health; counseling, patient education and health education; and using medical, therapeutic and corrective measures to treat illness and improve health status.” constitute the practice of nursing, and require a nursing license.
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Cryns agrees to a deal with the Lake County state’s attorney, dropping the remaining involuntary manslaughter charge against her. She agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, and agrees to an 18-month probationary period, 100 hours of community service, and a $250 donation to the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center.

2005
Oral arguments are heard for Runes’ appeal in the1st District Appellate Court in Chicago. With the exception of the disciplinary “ethics” class imposed by IDPR, about which the Court said IDPR “provided no argument or citation to any authority explaining the relevance of the 12-hour ethics course to the purposes of the Nursing Act,” the appellate court upholds IDPR actions.

Midwife Jennifer Lucchesi is ordered to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of nursing, advanced practice nursing, and midwifery.

2006
Midwife Stacey Rainer is ordered to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of advanced practice nursing

2007
Midwife Jerren Helwig is ordered to Cease and Desist the unlicensed practice of medicine, nursing, and advanced practice nursing.

Midwife Maggie Jihan receives two Cease and Desist orders, and a total of $10,000 in fines

Threat of Arrest