Leanne Italie: What ever happened to journalistic values?

Associated Press reporter Leanne Italie has written a valentine to homebirth by ignoring two fundamental principles of journalism. She saw no need for balance and no need for fact checking. Had she bothered with either, she would have written a very different piece.

Just about everything in the piece is wrong, starting with the title Home birth on the rise by a dramatic 20 percent. Leanne, better check out a statistics book; 20% of a tiny number is not only not a “dramatic” rise, it is trivial.

Let’s look at the issue of balance, on the pro-homebirth side I count 8 proponents of homebirth, on the anti-homebirth side I count ZERO. So Leanne, tell us, you thought that it was okay to ignore opponents because … you couldn’t find their e-mail addresses? … you could only find one obstetrician who would say what you want? … you couldn’t care less about the truth?

Leanne interviewed the usual suspects:

A homebirth midwife.
Three women who gave birth at home, including two who were high risk, because they did not want to listen to or did not want to pay for medical expertise.
Robbie Davis-Floyd, anthropologist and feminist anti-rationalist who asserts that intuition is just as accurate as medical knowledge.
An obstetrician who prefers to ignore the dangers of homebirth.
And … Johnson and Daviss, still trying to promote their deeply disingenuous and entirely inaccurate BMJ 2005 paper. And still refusing to come clean about the fact that they are both professional homebirth advocates.

I don’t know if the homebirth rate is rising or not, Leanne, but if women have to rely on fluff like yours, it’s no surprise that they gullibly believe that homebirth is safe. Reporters like you don’t bother to address the fact that homebirth kills babies…

That ALL the existing scientific evidence (INCLUDING the Johson and Daviss paper, as well as state and national statistics) show that homebirth triples the rate of neonatal death.

That there are women who have lost babies to prentable cause at homebirth and are desperately trying to get the word out that homebirth kills babies.

That the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), the organization that represents homebirth midwives, is HIDING the death rates of the 23,000 planned homebirths in their database.

Leanne, being a reporter and all, doesn’t that make you a teensy bit suspicious? If MANA’s data showed that homebirth was safe, they’d be shouting it from the rooftops. Instead, they absolutely refuse to tell us just how many of those 23,000 babies died at the hands of homebirth midwives. Let me guess. You didn’t call MANA to ask them about those death rates because you didn’t bother to find out that they collected that data and, of course, your interviewees didn’t bother to clue you in.

Well, Leanne, if you care, you can still salvage something of your journalistic reputation by trying to set the record straight. You can reach me at DrAmy5 at AOL dot com. I’d be happy to:

Explain what the research really shows.
Inform you of the appalling death rates of homebirth in states like Colorado that collect accurate statistics.
Put you in touch with MEDICAL EXPERTS who could detail exactly how and why homebirth leads to preventible neonatal deaths.
Introduce you to women who lost their precious babies at homebirth and are desperately trying to inform other women of the real risks.

You wrote a piece that ignored the very real dangers of homebirth, and as a result, more babies may die preventable deaths. Did you really want to write a puff piece or did you end up writing a puff piece by accident? Either way, you ignored two fundamental principles of journalism: fact checking and balance.

Want to write a balanced and factually based piece about homebirth? Don’t hesitate to let me know. I’d be happy to show you the other side of homebirth, the side that the people you interviewed are desperately trying to hide.

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