The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services emphatically denies supporting smear campaign

Note: Several hours after writing this post I received a definitive response to my query sent to Denna Suko of CIMS.

Good afternoon, Dr. Amy. Thank you for contacting CIMS. We appreciate your inquiry.

CIMS does not provide funding, technical support, personnel, nor any other type of support to the “My OB Said What” website, and we do not know who is responsible for the site…

I appreciate Ms. Suko’s quick and emphatic response.

*****

Several days ago I asked Why are the owners of “My OB said WHAT” hiding?:

The website “My OB said WHAT?” is supposed to highlight “stupid” things said by obstetricians. It is a slick, professionally designed smear campaign, clearly requiring a fair amount of money to create and maintain. Yet the owners feel that they have something to hide — their own identities.

I speculated that:

The amount of money involved and the desperate effort to conceal themselves suggest that “My OB Said What?!?” is run by a professional natural childbirth advocacy organization that has seen its previous efforts to control women’s childbirth choices fail dismally.

There are several clues that raise the possibility that the Coalition to Improve Maternity Services (CIMS) may be behind the site. The most suggestive is that the site’s only outbound link is to The Birth Survey, a project funded by CIMS. It shares many of the same characteristics of MOSW: it is a non-scientific solicitation of birth stories masquerading as “survey.” Since ads for The Birth Survey are placed almost exclusively on websites promoting alternative beliefs about childbirth, it is designed to collect unfavorable stories about obstetricians and hospitals. CIMS intendeds to use the information to pressure obstetricians and hospitals without making any effort to determine if the stories they receive are representative or even true.

MOSW does essentially the same thing. It solicits brief stories about unpleasant or contentious interactions with obstetricians with the explicit aim of promoting ridicule of obstetricians (hence the name “My OB Said What!?!). Once again there is no effort to determine if the stories are representative or even true.

I have no special skills to conduct an investigation of the ownership of a site whose owners are trying to conceal their identity, but it seemed like the first step would be to query to site owners. So I left the following message on their site:

I’d like to ask the sponsors of the site a direct question:

Since the only outbound link on the entire site is to The Birth Survey, and since this site is run by self-described birth professionals, it seems very possible that this site is an anonymous smear campaign sponsored by the Coalition to Improve Maternity Care (CIMS), the same organization that sponsors The Birth Survey.

I can’t imagine why the owners of this site would be hiding their identity unless it were because it would be professionally embarrassing to engage in such behavior publicly.

The best place to start in figuring out who is responsible for this site is to ask the owners, so I’m asking:

Is CIMS funding this site? If not, who owns and runs this site?

It seems rather ironic that the same people who demand “transparency” in maternity care are hiding their identities when discussing maternity care.

As expected, the owners of the site refused to answer. I know they saw the post because the site is moderated. Moreover, they became concerned and stripped out any potentially identifying data from their code.

If they won’t answer, it seems like the next step is to ask CIMS directly. Denna Suko is the Executive Director of CIMS. I’ve sent her the following e-mail:

No doubt you are familiar with the web site “My OB Said What?!?” As the only outbound link on the entire site is to The Birth Survey, and since the site is run by self-described birth professionals, it seems very possible that the site is sponsored by the Coalition to Improve Maternity Care (CIMS), the same organization that sponsors The Birth Survey. I have queried the site owners by placing a public comment on their site, but they have refused to answer.

The next logical step is to ask CIMS. Does CIMS provide funding for the website “My OB Said What?!?” Does CIMS provide technical support, personnel or any other support to MOSW?

I have shared the contents of this e-mail with the readers of my blog, The Skeptical OB, and I will share your response with them.

Thank you for your consideration.

I will report back when and if I get a response.

Addendum: As promised, I am sharing the response from Dena Suko.

Good afternoon, Dr. Amy. Thank you for contacting CIMS. We appreciate your inquiry.

CIMS does not provide funding, technical support, personnel, nor any other type of support to the “My OB Said What” website, and we do not know who is responsible for the site…

I appreciate Ms. Suko’s quick and definitive response.

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