INDIANAPOLIS - A Marion County midwife indicted on 17 felony charges made an initial appearance in court Tuesday as supporters rallied outside.
Carol Velasquez, 48, entered preliminary not-guilty pleas to 13 counts of unlawful practice of medicine and four counts of obtaining or procuring a legend drug.
Prosecutors said Velasquez administered the drugs cytotec and Pitocin during labor and delivery of children in 2009 and 2010.
Velasquez's supporters think the charges are unfair, but prosecutors said Velasquez endangered the lives of her patients.
"The problem isn't with home birth. The problem isn't with midwifery. The problem is with the use of drugs," said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Kristina Korobov. "I would encourage her supporters to pick up a copy of the charging information and to read through the charges and ask themselves if this jives with the home birth process and how it is supposed to work."
Despite that admonition, supporters stood outside the City-County Building with their children, holding signs that read, "We love and support Carol Velasquez," among other things. Other signs suggested Velasquez was the victim of so-called "birth politics."
"I think they are completely false and not true. I've worked with Carol. I know her to be an upstanding citizen," said Angie Herzberger, Velasquez's friend. "I have never seen her use any illegal drugs. She uses only natural methods."
"They really should be going after dangerous people, not people like Carol," said Sarah Reeves, another friend of Velasquez. "She's done nothing but help people."
Velasquez, who has been living in Aiken, S.C., for the last two years, did not speak to reporters outside court, but her husband, Marty Velasquez, declared that she is innocent.
"You can tell by the crowd around she is well-respected and well-loved," he said.
Prosecutors were not deterred.
"There's a reason why doctors are licensed to prescribe drugs. The use of drugs … without proper monitoring and without the authority to do so are dangerous and antithetical to the concept of home birth and everything it is supposed to be for a mother, a beautiful and natural experience," said Korobov.
Velasquez was permitted to surrender at the Arrestee Processing Center, where she was later freed after posting $15,000 bond. Her attorney refused to comment on the charges.
Another court appearance is set for May 28.
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