Petition Closed
Petitioning The California Medical Board Sharon Levine, President and 3 others

Stop the unconstitutional prosecution of religious midwives! Religious Freedom applies to childbirth choices!

The free exercise of religion is a constitutionally protected right. That right, however, is being infringed upon when a woman is not permitted to choose how, where and with whom she gives birth. There are many who view childbirth as not only non-medical, but religious and spiritual in nature. This understanding of birth as primarily religious in nature can be found to span many, if not most religious thought and dogmas. However, it is not incumbent on the individual to prove the validity of their religious conviction, but rather on the government to show a compelling interest in interfering with an individual's free exercise of religion. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM APPLIES TO CHILDBIRTH CHOICES!

Letter to
The California Medical Board Sharon Levine, President
Senior Investigator, Office of Safe Medicine, California Medical Board Majida Ibrahim
The Governor of California Gov. Jerry Brown
and 1 other
Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." (The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.)

The free exercise of religion is a constitutionally protected right. That right, however, is being infringed upon because the establishment does not view childbirth as a religious event. However, there are many who view childbirth as not only non-medical, but religious and spiritual in nature. This understanding of birth as primarily religious in nature can be found to span many, if not most religious thought and dogmas--including, but not limited to, Judaism, Catholicism, Charismatic/Pentecostal Protestants, Reformed Protestants, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age/Pagans.

However, it is not incumbent on the individual to prove the validity of their religious conviction, but rather on the government to show a compelling interest in interfering with an individual's free exercise of religion. The Supreme Court ruled thus in Sherbert v. Verner, 1963 and that has been upheld by the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 1993.

When it comes to maternity care, religious freedom is protected by the Religious Exemption Clause Section 2063, which reads, "Nothing in this chapter (of the Medical Practices Act) shall be construed as to...regulate, prohibit, or apply to any kind of treatment by prayer nor to interfere in any way with the practice of religion." Families birthing at home for religious reasons sign this clause stating, "We/I formally request the presence of a domiciliary midwife under the Religious Exemption Clause (Section 2063) during the normal and non-medical events of labor and the spontaneous birth of our child."

On November 15, 2012 sixty year old, Traditional Christian Midwife, Brenda Capps of Bakersfield California, was arrested at gunpoint for practicing medicine without a license. There had been no complaints made against Capps in the 22 years of her midwifery practice. She practices midwifery under the Religious Exemption Clause, which has been signed by all of her clients she has served in all the years of her practice.

The California Medical Board wants to argue that the clause does not apply if the client does not hold the same religion as their midwife. We maintain that it is not the job of the government to decide which religions and philosophies qualify for the free exercise of religion. Religion is a personal arrangement between an individual and their God. The Constitution gives no right for the Medical Board to decide which religions are valid and which are not.

We, the undersigned, ask that midwives continue to be allowed to practice according to their consciences under the religious exemption clause and that women are likewise allowed to claim religious exemption, according to their consciences. In addition, we demand that the unfair and unconstitutional prosecution of religious midwives cease.