Popular midwife appeals five-month jail sentence for contempt 

Midwife Gloria Lemay has appealed her five-month jail sentence for breaching a court order not to practice midwifery.

She was sentenced last week in Vancouver after being found guilty in Vancouver Supreme Court of contempt for violating a two-year-old undertaking not to have anything to do with pregnant women.

Before her sentencing about 100 supporters gathered on the steps of the courthouse.

Among them was Whistler’s Troy Assaly, whose first baby, Isaac, was delivered by Lemay.

A staunch supporter, Assaly and his wife Sheila Snow also wrote a letter of support for Lemay to the judge.

"We said Gloria has been a great inspiration to us on how to raise our kids," he said.

"She is always there, almost like an adopted grandmother, to help out with questions and we see her all the time and she is just like family.

"To say that she in dangerous and she is causing problems is just not fair and we asked that the judge should consider all of (Lemay’s) supporters and all the people that are rallying around and writing letters before he hands down his sentence. That was the message."

It was a message the judge listened to and he took an hour to read over the letters before handing down sentence, which included a one-year period of probation.

Lemay’s lawyer, Peter Ritchie, had asked for a conditional sentence to be served under house arrest. The crown asked for eight months.

Assaly said Lemay knew it was likely she would be serving some time behind bars and was prepared to leave with the court officials.

But he still found the scene unsettling.

"It was really kind of disturbing to see someone you know and trust and love being hauled off by the sheriffs to go to jail," said Assaly.

"But it is very temporary and she will be out soon."

Lemay has already been threatened with solitary confinement after she offered comfort to a pregnant women serving time in jail.

Lemay broke with her colleagues when she opted not to join the newly formed College of Midwives in 1996.

In 1999 she was ordered to stop calling herself a midwife and told to stop performing vaginal exams, managing deliveries and performing episiotomies, acts reserved by law for licensed midwives.

However Lemay continued to work. The college hired two private detectives to pose as students who signed up for childbirth courses taught by Lemay. It was their affidavit evidence which led to Lemay’s contempt conviction last December.

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