HARRISBURG (AP) _ An unlicensed midwife who assists Amish and Mennonite families with home births won a legal challenge Friday to a state decision that stopped her from practicing.

The Commonwealth Court's 5-2 ruling also overturned an $11,000 civil fine that the State Board of Medicine imposed on midwife Diane Goslin. The board can appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Commonwealth Court said the board erroneously concluded that by practicing midwifery, Goslin was also illegally practicing medicine and surgery without a license.

The board also denied Goslin due process by charging her under a 1985 state law that established licensing requirements for nurse-midwives, but disciplining her under a 1929 law that requires other types of midwives to hold state-issued certificates, the court found.

"Given the different purposes of the two statutes, we conclude that the nurse-midwife charges ... under the 1985 act did not give Goslin adequate notice to defend against the midwife offenses described in the 1929 law," Judge Rochelle S. Friedman wrote in the majority opinion.

Goslin, 50, who lives near Strasburg in the heart of Lancaster County's Amish community, was sanctioned in September for attending an Amish home birth in November 2005. The baby died the next day, although Goslin said the death was unrelated to her services.

Goslin has helped deliver more than 5,000 babies over 27 years as a lay midwife and estimates that 80 percent of her clientele consists of Amish and Mennonite women. She had argued that she merely provides coaching for normal births and refers expectant mothers to specialists if they experience any health problems.

"You just basically support a natural process that has been there since the beginning of time," Goslin said Friday. "We don't use instruments, we don't hurry labor, we don't use drugs."

State law requires midwives to be registered nurses and to operate under strict guidelines. Goslin said she has been certified as a "direct-entry" midwife without needing training in nursing through the North American Registry of Midwives, but that credential is not recognized in Pennsylvania.

Gerald Smith, an attorney for the medical board, said he was reviewing the ruling and could not immediately say whether the board would appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The board argued that Goslin was jeopardizing the health and safety of her patients and their newborns because she did not meet the state's requirements for nurse-midwife licensure.

"Our only concern is public safety, to make sure that people who are providing health care are qualified to do so and that they know what they're doing," Smith said.

President Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter and Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner dissented, but did not file opinions explaining their votes.

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