Homebirth Consensus Summit is a farce even before it begins

Silly me! When I first read about the Homebirth Consensus Summit, I thought it was a conference to reach a consensus about homebirth.

After all these years, I should have known better. Homebirth advocates wouldn’t dare to hold a conference where all the data would be presented and varying viewpoints aired. At such a conference, the copious data showing that homebirth increases the risk of neonatal death would be presented. Awkward!

At such a conference the CDC statistics showing that homebirth with an American homebirth midwife (CPM) triples the rate of neonatal death would be presented. Really awkward!

At such a conference, the pathetically inadequate requirements for CPM licensure might come up. Really, really awkward!

What to do? Hold a conference where only the only people who can participate must agree with the consensus beforehand. Phew, dodged that bullet.

On the Summit website, buried among the obfuscations, the real goal of the Summit is apparent, as well as the way that the Summit sponsors plan to get to that goal.

The Home Birth Consensus Summit will assemble a diverse multidisciplinary group of individuals with the goal of discussing a common agenda for the provision of home birth services in the United States. (my emphasis)

And if that’s not clear enough:

The point is not to debate the “rightness or wrongness” of homebirth. The goal is to establish what the whole system can do to support those who choose homebirth, and provide the care, safety net, consultation, collaboration and referral necessary to make homebirth the safest and most positive experience for all involved-moms, babies, families, communities, health care workers, hospital personnel, administrators, payors, and so on.

The rightness or wrongness of homebirth? What does that mean? It is doublespeak for the safety of homebirth. They couldn’t simply say, “The point is not to debate the safety of homebirth” because that would leave open the possibility that it isn’t safe. Awkward!

So anyone who wants to create a consensus around the provision of homebirth care is welcome? No, of course not. Only those vetted for agreement with the predetermined outcome of the Summit could possibly be allowed to attend.

The invitation selection process has been an iterative process with many rounds of vetting, internally and externally. Many individuals were nominated … Short lists were created by multidisciplinary subcommittees chaired by the Vision Team members who were most familiar with representatives of certain stakeholder groups. Each subcommittee went through a detailed vetting and weighing process and considered the balance of perspectives, ethnicities, gender, age, geography and other factors… We also prioritized those who were likely to respect the process by fully engaging in open-minded dialogue.

So the only participants can be those who were invited and you can only be invited if the “Vision Team” knows you, knows what you are going to say and and knows that you won’t bring up any issues that the team would prefer to hide. Anything else would be awkward.

It’s pretty clever when you think about it. The “Vision Team” wanted to hold a meeting about homebirth without mentioning the safety of homebirth. Since safety is the single most important issue, that is quite a challenge. The only way to make sure that it provides the predetermined “consensus” is to have only invited participants who are undergo “many rounds of vetting” to be absolutely, positively sure that they won’t provide any information isn’t pre approved, any perspective that isn’t pre approved, and above all else, any of that pesky data that homebirth advocates don’t want women to see.

Anything else could be very, very awkward.