Update (10:43 a.m. on May 5)

According to documents filed in late April in Travis County District Court, the attorney representing Leah Hernandez “generally denies the allegations” that were within the petition in this case.

Original Story:

AUSTIN, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — More information has been released as to why an Amarillo woman has been officially prohibited by a Travis County District Court Judge from practicing midwifery without a license.

According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, a Travis County Judge signed a Temporary Restraining Order for Leah Hernandez, preventing her from practicing midwifery without a license and publicly representing herself as a midwife.

According to documents obtained by MyHighPlains.com, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) filed a civil enforcement action in Travis County District Court on Feb. 23 regarding the matter surrounding Hernandez. In the “Original Petition and Application for Injunctive Relief” document, the TDLR claim that Hernandez operated and threatened to operate as a midwife “contrary to the requirements of state law,” and failed to comply with state law and regulations “regarding her conduct as a midwife apart from her failure to maintain licensure.”

Citing the Texas Midwifery Act, which is Sec. 203.003 of the Texas Occupations Code, the TDLR defined Midwifery as the practice of “providing the necessary supervision, care and advice to a woman during normal pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period…, conducting a normal delivery of a child (and) providing normal newborn care.” The act also prohibits a person from using advertisements or identification statements that are “false, misleading or deceptive.”

The original petition cited an alleged incident on the morning of Jan. 8. According to the document, Hernandez arrived at an Amarillo hospital with a pregnant patient who had allegedly been in labor “for almost three days.” The patient was reportedly in “unstable condition” and had to undergo an emergency cesarian section procedure where the fetus was “delivered stillborn.”

“This incident was caused by the lack of care and negligent decision-making of Ms. Hernandez that amounted to a failure to practice midwifery in a manner consistent with public health and safety,” the petition reads. “…A reasonable midwife would not have agreed to treat the patient due to her history of four prior cesarean sections.”

The documents read that Hernandez was allegedly operating at this point without her midwife license, which reportedly expired on Dec. 2, 2021. The documents also allege that Hernandez has previously violated the “laws and regulations surrounding the provision of midwifery services,” including providing care to patients multiple times without a license.

“Ms. Hernandez also continues to advertise herself as a licensed midwife,” the petition reads. “…Ms. Hernandez has several current clients who are scheduled for deliveries in the coming weeks.”

Through this petition, the TDLR is asking for the Travis County District Court to do a number of things, including:

  • Implementing a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction enjoining Hernandez from practicing midwifery without a license;
  • Issuance of a citation for Hernandez to appear, answer and show cause why a temporary injunction should not be granted;
  • An order, after a trial, directing permanent injunctive relief against Hernandez;
  • A judgment against Hernandez for appropriate civil penalties;

On March 8, Amy Clark Meachum, the Travis County District Judge, granted the TDLR’s request for a temporary restraining order against Hernandez, preventing her from practicing midwifery without a license or representing herself as a licensed midwife. Meachum found that “this order is necessary to prevent a continuing violation of these rules and regulations.”

According to the document, there will be a hearing surrounding the TDLR’s application for a temporary injunction for Hernandez at 9 a.m. on March 21 at the Travis County Civil and Family Courts Facility. Officials said this hearing is aimed at determining whether the temporary restraining order should be extended, or if a temporary injunction should be issued “pending a full trial.”

The order signed on March 8 will expire at 12 a.m. on March 22, according to the document, “unless extended or earlier terminated by further order of this Court.”

This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.

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