Amie Newman thinks it’s okay to hide the death toll of homebirth

I’ve participated in a number of on line discussions this week, and although the topics vary and identity of the homebirth advocates vary, one thing is always the same. When I mention that MANA is hiding the number of babies who died at the hands of CPMs, the silence is deafening.

Most homebirth advocates try desperately to pretend that I didn’t say it. They don’t deny that MANA (the Midwives Alliance of North America) is hiding the death rates at 18,000 homebirths attended by CPMs (certified professional midwives, formerly known as lay midwives). How could they? They don’t respond. What could they say? Instead they try to ignore this glaringly unethical behavior and hope that women will forget they ever heard about it.

Finally, though, someone decided to take a stand. Amie Newman, who blogs for RH Reality Check, explained why it is okay for MANA to hide the number of babies who died. After tangling with me through several back and forth comments, Newman wrote:

I 100% believe that women deserve the right to know how safe planned homebirth is with a Certified Professional Midwife. I also 100% believe that we have that information currently.

I replied:

You believe that we know the number of babies who died at the hands of CPMs in the 18,000 case MANA database?

Well, if you know the number, don’t keep us in suspense! Exactly how many babies died at those 18,000 CPM homebirths?

Or … will you simply acknowledge the obvious: we don’t have that information, MANA is hiding it, and you think it’s just fine for MANA to hide their own death rates from American women if those death rates are appallingly high.

At that point Newman simply stopped responding.

Honestly, I simply cannot fathom how a site that exists to support reproductive rights can produce a blogger and commenters that think women have no right to accurate information about the death toll of homebirth. Of course they join a long list of homebirth advocates who blithely ignore the issue that MANA is hiding homebirth deaths.

Ina May Gaskin thinks it’s just fine if MANA hides the number of homebirth deaths from American women.

Jill Arnold of the Unnecesarean claims to believe that “all maternity care data should be readily accessible to consumers and the general public,” but apparently thinks that does not apply to MANA.

Gina Crossley-Corcoran, the Feminist Breeder, offers the usual homebirth prattle without recognizing the irony:

I thought providers took an oath to help people? Putting their business ahead of reproductive choices isn’t keeping anybody safer, and the science proves that. Shame on them for ignoring the vast body of evidence from their own collegues.

Yes, shame on MANA for HIDING the vast body of evidence about homebirth deaths from their own colleagues, but especially from American women.

And Danielle Ellwood, the blogger who wrote the original piece on Babble performed the typical homebirth flounce:

Today, in true internet style… the poster [Dr. Amy] who started it all tried to call me out, and this is when I knew I needed to have my final word.

“And where’s Danielle who claims to care so much about mothers and babies? Why isn’t she demanding that MANA release their death rates?”

… Reply?

@Amy – There is no reasoning with someone like you. I care about women, I work on a local level, I work in my community, and I have actively been working for better maternal outcomes since entering the birth community 6 years ago, before even having my first child.

I am not going to feed into this debate anymore because it is clearly useless…

I am done.

In other words, she had painted herself into a corner and was too embarrassed to continue. Plus, she has all the right “birth cred” and everyone knows that means she really, really cares about women.

For these women and other homebirth advocates, I have a message:

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Stop pretending! We all know that those statistics are being hidden because they show that an appalling number of babies died at homebirths with CPMs. Otherwise MANA would have published them and sent out a thousand press releases to boot.

It is time for American women to learn the truth about homebirth deaths, and homebirth advocates should be the first to call for transparency, not the first to offer the pathetic excuse that women already have all the information they need.