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US Amish Midwives Charged with Illegally Practicing, Administering Medicine

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Two Amish midwives in Indiana who were charged with illegally practicing and administering medication to pregnant mothers and their children represented themselves in court on Friday and pleaded not guilty.

During the court proceedings, 73-year-olds Sylvia Eicher and Lydiann Schwartz stated that the highest level of education they'd reached was 12th and sixth grade, respectively. They also claimed that they'd been offering their services under the guidance of at least two doctors.

According to local station WANE, law enforcement in Indiana's Adams County were tipped off to Eicher and Schwartz in May 2017 after the parents of a deceased 14-day-old newborn told police they'd received prenatal care from Schwartz.

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According to court documents, the mother told police that she'd been given an IV during the delivery to "speed up the process."

Following up with Schwartz on the matter, police were informed that the patient had delivered the newborn, who ultimately died of a congenital heart disease, at Schwartz's home. The midwife told officers that the baby had "seemed normal" since she hadn't heard a "murmur or swishing" when listening to the baby's heart.

Schwartz later revealed that three days after the delivery, the baby had returned to her home for a phenylketonuria test for "proper enzymes." The unlicensed Schwartz described the IV she'd used as a "veterinary pit."

When asked if she was licensed to administer an IV, Schwartz indicated that she'd been taught by a doctor in Ohio how to use them.

In the same month, police received a separate tip about a pregnant Amish woman taken to Adams Memorial Hospital, the same infirmary where the 14-day-old newborn was pronounced dead, suffering from high blood pressure and a severe headache. During her stay at the hospital, the pregnant women told her physician that she'd been injected twice by Eicher, who was identified as a "mother's helper."

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Officers later contacted the mother at her home, who spilled the beans when they arrived, telling them that Eicher had given her shots on two previous occasions "for the baby's lungs."

When Eicher was first contacted, she told officers that she "may have" given the injections, but because she sees "so many women… she didn't remember." Some time later she admitted to giving the woman "vet medicine" to "mature the lungs," WANE reported.

During their search of Eicher's home, officers found a variety of medical supplies that included five sealed syringes.

Despite the felony charges that both women are facing, WANE reported that the two had a "strong showing of support from the local Amish community."

Both Schwartz and Eicher are currently out on bond.

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