BANDON -- A longtime Bandon midwife has been indicted by a Coos County Grand Jury on charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide related to the death of an infant she delivered last year.
Marcene Rebeck, who has worked as a lay midwife for 30 years in Bandon, said she was indicted last week. She is scheduled to be arraigned on July 30 at the Coos County Courthouse in Coquille.
Rebeck, who also owns the Espresso Factory in Bandon, runs a local Montessori-based school and teaches Jazzercise classes, said she has delivered 300 babies during her career, with only one death and no other major incidents.
The infant who died was a daughter born about a year ago to Bethany Reed of Riverton, who runs Abba Farms with her mother Linda Cummins. The infant died after a long labor and home birth when it was a few days old. The cause of death was listed as septis, an illness in which the body has a severe response to bacteria or other germs.
Cummins said Tuesday that she could not comment on the specifics of the case but that she and her daughter have been working with Coos County medical examiner Kris Karcher over the past year and that the DA's office has been reviewing the case since May.
'We're cooperative members of the community and we don't want to take a position other than to say that we have done what was requested of us and testified before the grand jury," Cummins said. 'The grand jury has done its work and the decision was based on testimony from others, not just from this case.
'We don't wish any ill will toward Marcene," Cummins added.
Reed now has another daughter who is almost two months old.
Rebeck said she is trying to raise enough money to retain her attorney and feels there is more behind the case than the unfortunate death of the infant.
'It's amazing that there is still a witchhunt against people who want to choose how to have their babies," she said.
A lay midwife may have had little formal training or recognized professional education in midwifery, and who learned by accompanying doctors or midwives attending home births.
LMs became active in the counterculture movement of the 1970s and are the main attendants at home births. Rebeck said in Oregon, a midwife does not need to be licensed, and that has been a point of controversy for many years.
A group of Rebeck's friends and supporters is hoping to stage a protest against the indictment and also plan a fundraiser to help raise the money for Rebeck's attorney fees.
Brian Kraynik of Bandon went to the Sheriff's Office Monday to identify himself as the point man for 'the protesting that is to start in the county and the cities of Coos Bay, Coquille and Bandon regarding the recent indictment of a midwife on charges of murder by the Coos County DA," according to a Sheriff's Office log Tuesday morning.
According to the log, Kraynik was provided information as to laws on rioting, criminal trespass and harassment. He told the Sheriff's Office that he had been to the local city halls in Coos Bay and Coquille about acquiring the proper permits.
'He was wishing to notify the county and local governments as to this protest as his expectation was that it would be a massive event, far bigger than even he could imagine," the log stated.
Kraynik said Wednesday he doesn't have a specific date planned for the protests, but that he is extremely upset over the indictment.
'It's completely outrageous that she has to be called out on these charges," he said.
Kraynik has two young children who Rebeck delivered and who both now attend her preschool.
'I can't say enough about what an asset she is to this community," he said. 'If you look at her track record, she's birthed 300-plus babies and the average (death rate) for North America hospitals of babies that die within the first week is one for every 250 births. Marcene is professional, she does a good job and we don't believe this was her fault."
He said he knows Reed personally and feels saddened by the family's tragic loss.
'But we can't lose Marcene," he said. 'I don't see how this will help anything, it will just divide this community."
Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier said he could not comment on the case until the July 30 arraignment.