Homebirth midwives, exploitation, and irony

Fraud steal

When it comes to having zero insight, it’s really hard to beat homebirth midwives. They are so totally clueless about how their own behavior comes across that homebirth midwives like Wendy Gordon, CPM, MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) executive, can actually write an inadvertently hilarious blog post like this: Why ALL Midwives Should Care About What’s Going On With Midwifery International.

I wrote recently about the charge leveled at Midwifery International, an organization that promotes medical tourism of homebirth midwives. To her credit, Gordon acknowledges that she exploited women of color in the developing world in order to get “catches.” But, of course, she excuses herself because “she didn’t know” how truly exploitative it was. Sorry, but that’s not an excuse.

And why didn’t she know she was exploiting poor women of color in the third world? Because of her “white privilege” that blinded her to the reality of what she was doing. The irony is that her desire to turn her birth junkie hobby into a money making exercise (“birth junkie privilege”) blinds her to the fact that homebirth midwives are exploiting white women in the first world, and in exactly the same ways.

I’ve taken Gordon’s excuses and just changed a few words to illustrate how homebirth midwives exploit privileged Western white women.


It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that says a homebirth advocate’s story — even when it remains untold — is always more believable than the obstetrician …

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that helps her to believe that women need homebirth midwives more than homebirth midwives need clients …

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that says that the tone used by obstetricians is offensive (“My OB Said What??!!”), so she can dismiss what they’ve said …

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that says that her beliefs about what is unethical trump those of doctors and medical ethicists .., while the ethical concerns of the babies and mothers being harmed by homebirth midwives are not addressed at all.

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that says that homebirth midwives get to decide what and who is to be believed. Hence the deleting and banning of dissenting opinions or even actual facts from every homebirth website, blog or message board.

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that makes her believe that her truth is The REAL Truth … and that anyone who disagrees should “educate” herself

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that permits her to think that she gets to determine when REAL harm is done … Hence the rallies to support homebirth midwives who have presided over deaths instead of investigations into their conduct.

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that tells her that there will be no consequences to sweeping aside the voices of homebirth loss mothers who express that harm is being done to them …

It is Wendy’s birth junkie privilege that allows her to decide who, if anyone, she will be accountable to, which generally means no one … Hence the refusal of MANA, her organization, to release their own death rates.

And my personal favorites:

It is birth junkie privilege that permits homebirth organizations like Wendy’s organization, MANA, to silence dissent by deleting curious questions from their Facebook page; … to keep recruiting and pretend as if there is “nothing to see here” while sending out a newsletters that makes no mention of the issue at hand.

It is birth junkie privilege that refuses to examine the possibility of another version of the truth other than her own; that will actually lash out at those who dare to speak up about scientific evidence and turn the tables back on them, making herself and her colleagues out to be the real victims. It is birth junkie privilege that says that the real damage done here is to the good reputations of the homebirth midwives, and that this concern for the reputation of homebirth midwives supersedes the harms being done in communities where homebirth midwives practice.

Birth junkie privilege assures Wendy that there will be no adverse impact to homebirth midwives if they just walk away from deaths and injuries at their hands. The folks at MANA (Melissa Cheyney, Geradine Simkins and Wendy Gordon among others) just continue to wave their hands, avoid the conversation with the community, and hope that this blows over quickly so that they can all just get back to making their money. It is certainly uncomfortable to have to think about the complexity of this and the deeper training issues that need to be addressed within homebirth midwifery …

And when Wendy and her colleagues exercise that ability to turn their backs and walk away without consequence, to go back to their daily struggles that are already hard enough, and leave this mess for someone else to sort out, then we have opted to once again leave their patients to bear the brunt of their profession’s problems. When MANA is not only allowed to be completely unaccountable to the communities that they purport to serve, but are openly bullying them in front of the professional leadership for speaking about being harmed (or holding “human rights” conferences to whine that homebirth midwives are persecuted), they highlight a major, major problem for the entire homebirth midwifery community.

Wendy Gordon willingly exploited women poor women of color in the third world to benefit herself. She says she’s sorry and she didn’t understand, but I don’t see her making any effort to provide restitution to the women she used and may have harmed.

In fact, what I see is a woman willing to say “sorry” when she’s wrung what she needed from poor women of color in the third world, then pivot on a dime to exploit well-off white women in first world countries to wring the money and the prestige that she wants out of them. No doubt she’ll say she’s sorry when MANA is forced to acknowledge that they’ve hidden their death rates all along, and the CPM is abolished. In the meantime she’ll take what she wants and ignore those she harms. I wonder if she’ll eventually blame it on her birth junkie privilege.