Midwife found not guilty in breech baby’s death

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – An unlicensed midwife was found not guilty of child abuse resulting in death after a breech baby she tried to deliver died.

In 2019, Angela Hock went before a judge, charged with a Class 2A felony. Judge Timothy Burns, after a week-long trial, said Hock’s actions were likely unlawful by her acting as a midwife and delivering a baby — that could have resulted in misdemeanor charges.

Nebraska Health and Human Services determined Hock did not have a medical or certified nurse-midwife license and issued a cease-and-desist order — that could have resulted in felony charges.

But — these were not the charges Angela Hock was facing.

Judge Timothy Burns went on to mention Hock is not a licensed midwife, but she does have education, training and experience with childbirth.

“What makes this case very troubling for the court is to try to separate the rights of the parents to choose an at-home birth, Burns said. “The Noes even rehired her after they tried a home delivery with a first child about a year and a half earlier.”

Angela Hock faces felony charges of negligent child abuse resulting in death, after an infant...
Angela Hock faces felony charges of negligent child abuse resulting in death, after an infant she attempted to help deliver died days after birth.(Source: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office/WOWT/CNN)

Defense attorneys say today’s verdict sends a message.

“A very complicated case involving a number of legal and medical issues — the judge had a lot of information to look over and he rendered his verdict based upon the law,” said defense attorney Stu Doran. “The current state of the law is that you can have a home birth. A woman has a right to do that.”

“A real takeaway from the judge’s decision — he declared that families have a constitutional right to decide where they’re having their babies,” said civil rights attorney Hermine Hayes-Klein. “There is no law in Nebraska or anywhere that I know about that mandates parents to go into the hospital for childbirth.”

The judge did say the court expresses no opinion on whether home births in general are wise or prudent — rather, an issue for perspective parents and the Nebraska legislature to decide.