Birth criminals

You have to give homebirth advocates credit for intellectual honesty. It doesn’t matter to them whether babies live or die and they don’t care who knows it. Apparently, babies who die are just collateral damage in the fight for every woman to put her birth experience ahead of her baby’s very life.

How else to explain the grotesque nomination of Australian midwife Lisa Barrett as a “National Birth Hero” on a major homebirth advocacy website, One World Birth? It’s as if the AMA nominated Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, as physician of the year.

Indeed, the parallels between Dr. Murray and Ms. Barrett are striking. Both ignored the law to follow their patients wishes, both violated basic standards of practice and both accepted large sums of money for doing so. But Conrad Murrary is facing several years of jail time for letting one patient die a preventable death, while Lisa Barrett is nominated as a “hero” having presided over FIVE preventable deaths. The medical community is disgusted by Murray’s behavior. The homebirth community is impressed with Barrett’s.

Barrett is a one woman crime wave, presiding over no less than 5 preventable deaths in the past 5 years, as well as practicing midwifery without a license and taking her claim that a baby who born only barely alive as a result of her negligence should be ignored as not a person all the way to the Australian High Court (and losing).

You might think that homebirth advocates, who prate endlessly and falsely, that homebirth is as safe as hospital birth might consider Barrett a liability. You might think that homebirth advocates who are careful in most public pronouncements to declare that homebirth is appropriate only for low risk women might disavow a midwife who deliberately takes on very high risk patients. You might think that homebirth advocates would prefer to ignore Barrett, not honor her. But, of course, you’d be wrong on all three counts.

Lisa Barrett is not a birth hero, she is a birth criminal.

What is a birth criminal? A birth criminal is a midwife who ignores the growing pile of tiny bodies, babies who died preventable deaths as a result of her direct or indirect professional actions. Lisa Barrett is hardly the only birth criminal, and hardly the only birth criminal lauded for her despicable actions.

Melissa Cheyney is a birth criminal for fighting every effort at homebirth safety regulation at the state and nation level. She presides over the Board of Direct Entry Midwifery of a state with a neonatal death rate FOUR times the rate of comparable risk hospital birth. She, who is in charge of midwifery licensure, opposes mandatory licensure. In her role as Director of Research of MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) she heads a vigorous effort to hide the appallingly high death rate of the 24,000 planned homebirths in MANA’s own database.

Other birth criminals include:

Janet Fraser (let her own baby die)
Laura Shanley (let her own baby die)
Amy Medwin (pleaded guity to charges in a homebirth death)
Karen Carr (pleaded guilty to felony charges in a homebirth death)
Russ Fawcett and the North Carolina Friends of Midwives (who held a rally on behalf of Amy Medwin)

The list goes on and on and is far too long for one blog post. But the biggest birth criminal of them all is the oldest and best known among them, Ina May Gaskin. Gaskin is the Jim Jones of homebirth midwifery. She created the contemporary cult of homebirth, brews the kool-aid and accepts no responsibility, indeed refuses to acknowledge, the many babies who have died as a result of her bizarre and proudly irrational beliefs. I suppose it is hardly surprisingly that she accepts no responsibility for the many unknown babies who died as a result of her preaching about the purported virtues of homebirth; she accepts no responsibility for the death of her OWN child who died as a result of her refusal to seek obstetric care.

I used to think that there was nothing more disgusting than homebirth advocates who ignore the rising toll of homebirth deaths, but One World Birth has showed me that I was wrong. There is something more disgusting than ignoring the deaths: honoring those who cause them.