ImprovingBirth.org boasts about latest effort to exploit the woman in the “forced episiotomy” video

Open hand raised, Stop Exploitation sign painted, multi purpose

Poor Kelly!

Not only was treated disrespectfully by her obstetrician, but she’s been endlessly exploited by the folks at ImprovingBirth.org who have used her story to raise their own public profile while doing NOTHING to help Kelly.

You may remember when I wrote last fall about the exploitation (What has Improving Birth done for the woman in the “forced episiotomy” video besides exploit her?)

What has Improving Birth done to seek redress for “Kelly,” the mother in the video? Not a damn thing because they don’t really care about Kelly beyond using her for fundraising. They haven’t assisted her in filing an official complaint with the hospital, they haven’t helped her file a complaint with the California Board of Medicine, they haven’t helped her obtain legal counsel, and, most importantly, they have not outed the doctor and hospital where the incident took place.

What does Improving Birth recommend that viewers of the video should do:

Helps Improving Birth

What a surprise! Every suggestion — sign a petition, use social media to promote Improving Birth, attending an Improving Birth rally, tell a story of violation under the aegis of Improving Birth, and give money to Improving birth — benefits Improving Birth. And NONE of the suggestions benefit Kelly in any way!

Now they’re boasting about the latest plan to exploit Kelly.

Improvingbirth 1-29-15

Tomorrow, we’re accompanying Kelly to the police station with the video of her forced episiotomy, and to the hospital one last time to give them the chance to do the right thing before we publish their name and the name of her doctor. She is strong and courageous, but it will surely be an emotional day. Please send prayers and thoughts for Kelly–there are so many of us standing behind her!

You may notice that going to the police station was not one of the ways that I mentioned for Kelly to seek redress. Why?

Because the police can’t do anything for Kelly! They are too busy dealing with murders, robberies and rapes to file a losing assault case against a doctor and hospital who are likely to defend themselves in the courts as vigorously as the law allows.

Who could do something for Kelly?

1. A lawyer who files a lawsuit against the doctor in question
2. A lawyer who helps Kelly file a complaint against the doctor with the California Board of Medicine
3. Expert witnesses to testify at the legal trial that would be the consequence of her lawsuit

But those things cost money, and ImprovingBirth.org appears to spend money only to publicize itself, not to help people like Kelly. Heading to the police station is cheap grandstanding designed to obtain press coverage for ImprovingBirth.org.

See? It’s a win-win for ImprovingBirth.org. They don’t have to spend money on hiring a lawyer, and they get free publicity.

What about Kelly?

Who cares about Kelly?

Apparently, the folks at ImprovingBirth.org are extending their exploitation of Kelly from tragedy to farce. Birth advocates should take note. It costs money to provide real help to Kelly, and the money they raise goes to enhancing THEIR public visibility. It costs nothing to drag Kelly to the police station, have her share an intimate video with strangers who aren’t going to be able to help her, while garnering free publicity of ImprovingBirth.org.

The publicity campaign started last night by boasting about the impending farce at the police station.

No doubt the folks at ImprovingBirth.org imagine that they are oh so clever.

Too bad that Kelly is being used yet again.

  • Sarah

    Hmmm, it would seem that Improving Birth DID find her a lawyer. You might want to update this post.

  • Stephanie

    If he cut Kelly without her consent, which seems to be the case. He is guilty of assault, I would dare say even sexual assault. He needs to be outed and held accountable both civilly and criminally.

    • Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. Because this was a doctor rather than some guy on the street and he wasn’t performing some renegade unheard of procedure, he is protected on that level. He can still be punished and for god’s sake I hope that he is, but it will have to be by medical professionals who can tell the powers that be how this was a brutal and criminal act. Because he’s a doctor, someone trusted in a position of authority, he’ll be subject to a specific set of charges.

      If I were a pregnant woman in Kelly’s area I’d be begging to know what hospital this was. Their refusal to protect the public and instead hold this information to their chest for legal and publicity reasons would make me question the veracity of this claim (had I not seen the video) and wonder if it weren’t a ploy to scare me into home birth.

      Shame on everyone involved, basically, and I hope that Kelly has a better support system in person.

      • Stephanie

        It should be a criminal offence. Doctors should not be immune from prosecution for butchering.. which is what this guy was doing. I had an episitomy with my son, because it was needed. The OB told me she had to do it and why she was doing it. She didnt cut me like this so called doctor did Kelly. If I had said no or asked her to stop, she would have done that. Sadly women when they become pregnant are treated not as human beings, but as walking incubators. In some places women who are taking legit pain meds can be prosecuted if the baby is born addicted. As an SA survivor like Kelly, I would never go to a male OB. I personally have to question why men want to get into this feild, but that is another topic for debate.

        • I agree with you, but as of right now and, more importantly, as of the hack job, it isn’t assault. I’m not defending him, he’s a dirtbag and I really wish those people would give up his identity because patients need to be protected from him.

          And I can’t fault men who specialize in women’s reproductive health, just as much as I can’t fault you for being uncomfortable having a man as your doctor. UNDOUBTEDLY there are men who go into it for really weird, gross reasons, and we hear about those dudes in the news occasionally, but they’re in the minority. I imagine that men OB’s go into it for the same reasons as their female counterparts.

  • Laura Thomas

    I can’t quite leave this post behind just yet. I’m studying ethics and quality improvement as well as advocacy in my nursing program right now. So, Kelly could also report the hospital where the unwanted episiotomy occurred to Joint Commission. Although JC is more focused on how the hospital creates a safe environment and not necessarily disciplining a bad doctor, if the JC contacted the hospital administrators with Kelly’s complaint you can bet that will put tremendous pressure on that doctor to explain his behavior to hospital administrators. Is that what Kelly wants? For the doctor to be exposed so that he stops his criminal and grossly unethical behavior? I really do feel for this poor woman and think that there were many ways she could have brought exposure to this bad doctor without being re-traumatized, spending lots of money, or being exploited by ImprovingBirth. http://www.jointcommission.org/report_a_complaint.aspx

  • Evefromgermany

    Good to know! Most women who want to deliver in my hospital want a Natural childbirth and from those, approx 75 per cent give birth vaginally without medication. 15 % vacuum delivery, 12% unplanned c section, 16% planend c section. Vbac is encouraged but only for 1 cesarian in the medical history.
    It would actually be a big surprise for me if the Hospitals in the US were so much different than those in Europe.

  • EvefromGermany

    This Video is actually terrible. The doctor cuts like six times! And also the overall Impression…Woman flat on her back, feet in stirrups, doctor in OR gowns. I am a German OB/GYN and work in a City hospital with 2200 deliveries per year. We would only use such a Position for vacuum extraction, even then Woman would Not have to lie flat. And to cut so deep and several times-this would be considered very poor practice over here (not just in my hospital). Sorry if this is a little off Topic. I am not supportive of home births, which are pretty rare here-albeit some disastrous outcomes have gained Media attention. But seeing this it dawns in me why so many US women might want to avoid Hospitals like the one shown in the video.

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      This video is in no way typical of the usual experience in a US hospital.

    • Medwife

      I think most commenters here agree that this is very poor practice. I agree it’s a cringe-inducing recording.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD
    • Melissa

      Well I already see a problem. They are trying to make a claim of sexual assault which is not at all what this is going to be classified as. Sexual assault statutes tend to include an element of arousal on the part of the perpetrator, which is not what is going on in this case (at least not that we’ve seen). If they are trying to demand that this is treated as a sexual assault (and were asking the same of the lawyers they spoke with re: civil case) then I can see why they were rejected.

      It is very likely that Kelly feels sexually violated but it doesn’t meet the elements of the offense and they are not getting anywhere by going down that path. Focus on the medical assault/battery from a lack of consent for the procedure.

      • sdsures

        Did Kelly sign a blanket consent on coming into hospital for delivery?

        • Melissa

          Probably. And that is going to be another issue (and might also be one of the reasons why nobody would want to take it on contingency). You can withdraw consent after signing such a form but it will be HIGHLY fact specific. The court would want to know the atmosphere at the time the blanket consent was given, the atmosphere when it was revoked, and what happened afterwards.

          Like, we can all agree the video is terrible. But a lawyer who is asked to take the case on contingency is going to see the video as a snapshot of a moment in time and not the full record. Getting that record takes time and time is money. So when they say no lawyer will take the case I see that less as proof that big medical has a lock on everyone, and more that these lawyers want to guarantee compensation for their efforts. Since many states have capped punitive damages, lawyer fees, and other recovery costs as part of tort reform efforts it doesn’t make sense to take these cases on contingency where you have to hope for a jury verdict for the maximum amount to recoup the time it takes to litigate.

          • sdsures

            Unless arrival at the hospital was panicked, rushed, etc, can we even assume that she signed the blanket consent in a fairly calm setting? In emergencies, of course, it’s often the case where someone other than the patient (who is in extremely dire straits, possibly unconscious) has to sign the consent without knowing that their loved one’s life will be saved, and they just have to sign and hope.

          • mythsayer

            Right… I highly doubt anyone will take this case. It’s simply too expensive and risky on contingency. Med mal is bad enough when it’s basic med mal… but intentional claims? Oh the hospital would go after them like crazy. And it’s not even a good intentional case. It’s just too borderline.

            We don’t have a cap on punitives, btw. They just have to pass federal constitutional review (due process issue, per the California Supreme Court… generally 3 to 10 times the general damages award is reasonable).

            Even with punitives available, no one will take this case. I could see maybe some general damages but it’s too borderline to award punitives.

      • mythsayer

        Exactly… there has to be mens rea for any crime. If there was no intent to commit sexual assault, then they’ll have a hard time proving it. Here are the sections of Penal Code 243.4 that might apply (I’m not including (b) because it deals with institutionalization).

        Penal Code 243.4.

        (a) Any person who touches an intimate part of another
        person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or
        an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person
        touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual
        gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery.

        THIS DOES NOT APPLY BECAUSE SHE WASN’T UNLAWFULLY RESTRAINED AND THERE APPEARS TO BE NO SEXUAL GRATIFICATION ON THE PART OF THE DOCTOR.

        (c) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person for
        the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse,
        and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act
        because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching
        served a professional purpose, is guilty of sexual battery.

        NOTE THAT SUBSECTION C REQUIRES UNCONSCIOUSNESS

        (d) Any person who, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual
        gratification, or sexual abuse, causes another, against that person’s
        will while that person is unlawfully restrained either by the
        accused or an accomplice, or is institutionalized for medical
        treatment and is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, to
        masturbate or touch an intimate part of either of those persons or a
        third person, is guilty of sexual battery.

        THIS ONE DOES NOT APPLY FOR OBVIOUS REASONS..

        (e) (1) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person,
        if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is
        for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or
        sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery…

        THIS SECTION AGAIN REQUIRE SEXUAL GRATIFICATION SO IT DOESN’T APPLY.

        That is the law a prosecutor would follow in prosecuting a sexual assault. There is simply no way the doctor would be found guilty in a criminal trial.

        She might have better luck in a civil trial, but it would just be straight assault and battery. She has an arguably valid argument in a civil suit, but I suspect the biggest hurdle would be consent. Personally, I don’t think I would take this case. It’s too risky. Medical Malpractice is expensive and even though they are claiming this was intentional, they still have to fight the insurance company and that’s why it would get expensive. Further, there is such a thing as implied consent, and I’m sure the doctor/hospital’s attorney would make a big deal out of it in this case.

    • Kq

      This reads like a Munchausen By Internet story.

    • A

      Sexual assault, of all things? I’m no lawyer but I can’t see that working out. Melissa explained it perfectly.

  • Kingma

    Lovely People, I realise that your various explanations for why improving birth/human rights in birth/kelly herself/the medical board are acting as they do may true. I don’t deny that. But – good scientists as you are – all viable explanations need to be considered, heard – and then compete.

    Could an alternative explanation not be (which is of course the whole rationale for human rights in birth/national advocates for pregnant women existence) that it is quite hard to get heard or taken seriously for protesting at having undergone unconsented-to birth interventions? For what do we know about this?
    1) We know – as you all determined in last post on this topic – that a competent woman’s right to refuse intervention is, as that of any patient’s, pretty much unassailable. So if any OB ever does something like the OB in this video, and goes directly against the woman’s refusal, or pressures her unduly, etc etc – the complaining woman ought to be found in the right. whether it was for the benefit of the feotus of not – irrelevant. it’s her right to refuse.
    2) We also know that ob’s get sued left, right and centre for harms to foetuses/babies (often, probably, completely unjustified). No lack of desire to sue then, and no lack of legal personnel very able and keen on suing doctors – big money in it.
    3) Can we think of any cases of women suing successfully (or at all) for forced Caesarean sections, let alone forced episitomies, forceps, etc, etc? I can’t! It looks like there may be a court case coming in a case that is absolutely miles beyond the line in the sand – a forced caesarean section with written evidence in the OB’s own hand that the woman refused (and not even refused ‘in the throes of labour’ but on the back of a long documented history of not wanting the C-sec). By your own agreement (under one) this is clear as can be – but I will not bet money on the mother women.
    4) What we also know is that there are many well-documented cases of women’s competent refusal being overridden, with the backing of courts and hospitals , in the name of their foetus. I believe Lynn Paltrow has a piece documenting a long list of them – angela carter being a famous case you have probably heard of.

    So: given all that – is it more likely that the medical board found nothing wrong because there was nothing wrong? Or is it more likely that the medical board, like so many professionals, like so many courts of law, (cases not just in USA but also UK and NL) have find that whilst in the abstract they may subscribe to 1) – like you – ; in practice, they disregard it. And therefore that it is difficult for Kelly to get heard or taken seriously (after all ‘she had a healthy baby’ ; ‘what is she complaining about’ ) and so that it is difficult to find a lawyer, particularly if she is short on funds, who will take on what they may see as a hopeless case.

    In addition to that : consider the quantity of (in your perception) ‘nut cases’ who fuelled by – in your perception – “all sorts of NCB/’trust birth’ bullshit’ are in fact refusing interventions when they inadvertedly end up in hospital. Do we really think noone ever gets bullied/pressured. And why do we not see that end up in court?
    There must be cases like that. I know of at least one case in the NL (a planned twin-home-birth, ending up in a coerced (police escort and all) caesarean section. The midwife supporting the birth got sued by the health authorities (despite their being no doubt about the mother’s capacity and consent). But neither the mother nor anyone is suing or even reporting to the medical-board-equivalent the hospital/doctors or authorities for coercion; despite everyone’s in principle agreement on 1), noone has any faith it would hold up.

    SO – why is your explanation more likely than the above?

    I am very interested to hear.

    ps yes, another explanation is that the video is fake. Just disregard that for the purposes of the argument.

    • Amazed

      “Could an alternative explanation not be (which is of course the whole
      rationale for human rights in birth/national advocates for pregnant
      women existence) that it is quite hard to get heard or taken seriously
      for protesting at having undergone unconsented-to birth interventions?”

      I stopped reading here. Because the answer is simple.

      No. No, it couldn’t. Many commenters here and Dr Amy herself offered legal help to get Kelly heard and taken seriously. ImprovingBirth’s answer after THEY requested Dr Amy’s help and she offered it? It wasn’t contacting her with the details. No, it was deleting the evidence that such help was ever demanded and offered.

      They have something to hide. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine what it is.

      On one hand, we have Ashley Martin here. A real woman standing with her face and name for her truth. We saw how they treated her. On the other hand, we have “Kelly” whose identity is being kept hidden by ImprovingBirth who delights in baring her nether regions to the world.

      I know which story seems more real to me. To make it clear: I don’t doubt the video. I don’t believe the version ImprovingBirth is trying to sell about what happened next.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      The issue in question is not whether Kelly was treated deplorably. It seems like she was. The issue is whether ImprovingBirth.org is helping her, or exploiting her for publicity and fund raising without doing anything for Kelly.

      • Kingma

        Ok – you are right – I am slightly side-tracking, focussing on an issue perhaps raised in earlier posts but simmering in the background here: that the people claiming to help and support Kelly must be disingenuous because – it is thought here ‘surely it is a cut and dried case and it would be easy to get that claimed in court’
        I think this is still worth addressing (see also amazed’s answer below). My question was thus not about whether she was treated deplorably – there we all agree (if video = true). But whether getting legal redress would be easy.
        My guess, which seems not an explanation really considered here, is that it might not be.
        That would also explain why the help offered here has not been taken up. If this is going to be extremely hard and going to be a test-case, then it requires a very serious team of experts behind it.
        Given that this blog’s attitude has been not acknowledge the possible difficulties that legal redress would face, and to suggest that ‘just go to the medical board – cut and dried case’ is the extent of the problem, the help offered here may not have seems quite of the right kind and magnitude (I can imagine) – or even all that serious or genuinely supportive.
        I don’t say that is true, I say it is an explanation that deserves consideration. [ that also may address your point below, amazed!) .
        It may well be the case that improving birth exploits it; they may also (in addition) be working behind the scenes to get resources together. same for human rights in birth.

        • Kingma

          having a quick look at the human rights in birth website, they are doing something (I am no lawyer) on the forced caesarean case. there me well be a strategy behind this – getting a precedent or something? (again: no lawyer).
          Not saying it is true – saying it seems to me to be an explanation worth serious consideration…

          • Kq

            “Not saying it is true – saying it seems to me to be an explanation worth serious consideration…”

            You’ve said this several times. Your agenda is showing.

          • yugaya

            Yeah, the holier-than-thoughness too, right from the “Lovely People,” intro. Perhaps, given such highly expressed concern for getting legal redress on behalf of women hurt during childbirth “Kingma” will offer us lovely people here an equally in depth analysis of how the “he whole rationale for human rights in birth/national advocates for pregnant women” should be applied in the case of the murder of Gavin Michael?

          • Guesteleh

            I think you guys are being a little hard on Kingma. respectful and the points she brings up are worth considering. I don’t know what’s going on here and I think Improving Birth is loony but I’m not comfortable with the way Amy’s been speculating about this case. We simply don’t know what’s going on.

          • yugaya

            I already said it, I want Kelly to get her justice and closure and if ImprovingBirth and their kindergarten tactics help her do that kudos to them. Sincerely doubt it though.

            Now as far as “Kingma” goes, I asked her a question about Gaving Michael but maybe she missed it so I will repeat : What would she do to make Christy M.Collins CPM pay for murdering him?

          • Kingma

            Ok, you ask me about Gavin Michael. I know little about the case (but had a look) and undoubtedly anything I say about this is insufficient because there are so many complexities.
            Still let me try to briefly answer your question: I think neonatal damage and death due to health professional’s culpable negligence (is that the word?) should be treated exactly the same regardless of who the birth attendant is. Since the USA (I hear) has a venerable tradition of suing your OB for damage to the child, in principle that should be no different for midwives. I assume, perhaps, naively, that those routes are available. (whether that suing culture is a great idea is a different question – perhaps not – but either way health care professionals should be treated the same).
            I know too little about the legal situation in US (or anywhere else) to really say much else.
            Does that help?

          • yugaya

            “there are so many complexities

            That did not stop you from making an editorial length contribution to the case originally discussed.

            “neonatal damage and death due to health professional’s culpable negligence”

            Christy M. Collins, CPM, was NOT a health care professional, she was only pretending to be one when she killed Gavin Michael. She is fully allowed to get away with it due to lack of regulation. She intentionally moved from the state where she was on probation and lost her midwifery license to the one where license was not required at all and she could practice “alegaly”.

            “I assume that those routes are available.”

            No they are not, and all we can do is track her down and call her a murderer to her face when she shows up.

          • mythsayer

            Technically they are available… you can sue a midwife the same as a doctor. It’s just kind of pointless to do so. I took Kingma’s answer to be about lawsuits, not about reporting to a board. I don’t think Kingma knows how licensing works here.

          • yugaya

            ” I don’t think Kingma knows how licensing works here.”

            She sure seemed to know a lot about US/rest of the world system differences and similarities when we were discussing obstetric violence:

            “What we also know is that there are many well-documented cases of women’s competent refusal being overridden, with the backing of courts
            and hospitals , in the name of their foetus. I believe Lynn Paltrow has a piece documenting a long list of them – angela carter being a famous case you have probably heard of.So: given all that – is it more
            likely that the medical board found nothing wrong because there was nothing wrong? Or is it more likely that the medical board, like so many
            professionals, like so many courts of law, (cases not just in USA but also UK and NL) have find that whilst in the abstract they may subscribe to, in practice, they disregard it.”

            All of a sudden, when we start talking about the murder of baby Gavin Michael by lay homebirth midwife Christy M Collins, and she is so out of knowledge, and it is too complicated for her (from elsewhere) to comment on it, and it is a bad idea to be as sue happy.

            Words like liar and hypocrite come to mind when describing “Kingma” and what and why she is saying here in her distinctive “Lovely people,” tone.

          • mythsayer

            The avenue for suing a midwife is the same as for a doctor. The difference is that doctors have insurance to pay for any damages whereas midwives only have their personal assets, which can be easily hidden. And generally a person isn’t going to have more than half a million in assets and that’s only if that person owns a house with equity. So there’s no point to sue midwives. It’s not cost effective. Some have and have won and it was the principle of thing for them. But most can’t afford it. And the suits barely register at all because the midwives just move to new states. Christy Collins got in trouble in California, so she moved to Nevada and killed Gavin Michael.

            I would like to ask… are you suggesting that it’s okay to not hold people responsible for their actions? You said you question how “sue happy” Americans are. That’s true. But I believe that if someone does something wrong, that person should be held responsible.

          • Kingma

            Thank you

          • mythsayer

            Honestly, she’s basically correct. You sort of have to understand lawyers and how lawsuits work. As Dr Amy said, Improving Birth could find an attorney to take the case if it would front the money. But it hasn’t done that. She’s basically saying Improving Birth should put its money where its mouth is. No different than the ACLU. Just a lobbying organization basically. Except the ACLU actually helps people. Improving Birth is not actually helping Kelly; it’s using her for free propaganda.

        • Amazed

          “the help offered here may not have seems quite of the right kind and
          magnitude (I can imagine) – or even all that serious or genuinely
          supportive”

          Then why did Hermine Whoever demand said help? Why didn’t she, in her capacity as a lawyer, do something? Like contacting the offices Bombshelrisa wrote about?

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          https://www.facebook.com/ImprovingBirth/posts/820868257986664

          According to this post, the hospital claimed there was no wrong doing and all the lawyers consulted refused to take the case.

          We can be sure that the lawyers are NOT afraid of the doctors, nor are they interested in supporting them. They give their opinions based on the legal realities. If you hire and PAY a lawyer, he or she will file the lawsuit. So I suspect that what they mean is that no lawyer agreed to take the case for free (on contingency). That’s something entirely different from refusing to take the case.

          ImprovingBirth.org could fund this case if it wanted to do so.

          • And there’s the rub. The case isn’t economic for a lawyer to pursue, the costs of taking it through the courts far exceeds any expected award of damages. The only way a case like this is going forward is if its sponsored by an organization that is actually interested in advancing the rights of women with respect to obstetric care.

          • sdsures

            The lawyers are being quite ethical in not taking the case.

          • Kingma

            why?

          • sdsures

            Because there is no criminal case or civil case. They know they’d be burning billable hours by taking it.

          • Kingma

            exactly – they give their opinion based on the legal realities. And my suggestion is that we have good reason to think the legal realities may be hindering rather than paving the way to justice here.
            Perhaps improving birth could fund the case; perhaps they have decided that funding a test case in new york first is better; perhaps they are useless; perhaps even with money a good lawyer is difficult to find because such a lawyer may worry about reputation, repercussions re: the ‘legal personhood agenda” in the USA, etc. I really don’t know – reading this blog has certainly made me consider explanations that question the integrity of improving birth which I hadn’t considered before, but not to the exclusion of possible explanations that consider the difficulty of obtaining justice for birthing women. I am still entertaining both.
            But the present discussion does suggest that the repeated assertion on this blog that ‘reporting to the medical board’ would make it all fine seems a bit naive.

  • Dr Kitty

    I’m going to come right out and say it.

    I haven’t seen the video.
    I don’t need to.

    Kelly obviously suffered something very traumatic.
    I don’t need to watch it to believe that.

    I want the doctor who inflicted that on her to be sanctioned for his actions.
    I don’t need to watch it to want that.

    I want Kelly to get some restitution and compensation for her pain and suffering.
    I don’t have to watch it to want that.

    I am deeply, deeply concerned that Improving Birth are using Kelly to further their own agenda, and that they have been exploiting her vulnerability and violating her privacy to do it.

    I won’t watch it, not because I don’t believe her, or don’t want her to get some justice, but because I don’t want to be another person invading her privacy, shaking my head at the terrible things that happen in the world while treating her story as just another thing in the newsfeed to be tutted at before moving on to something else.

    The only people who still need to see that video are the medical board, hospital board and (hopefully) a jury in her civil suit.
    The rest of us, we really don’t need to see it, because surely Kelly has been violated enough already.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Amy Tuteur Now they say that a claim was filed with the California Board of Medicine; there’s no way to check because only complaints that proceed to charges are made public.

    Presumably the Board investigated and found no evidence of wrong doing.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    I guess they decided to go to the hospital instead. Perhaps because we highlighted the fact that a trip to the police station would just be further exploitation of Kelly?

    • Ashley Martin

      I have responded to Dawn’s message – which was 7 days ago and not a peep back from her. I’m anxiously awaiting a response.

    • Laura Thomas

      Heather should have gone to her insurance company (if she had insurance.) If there are enough grievances filed against a doctor who’s getting reimbursement from an insurance company, then that will change if there is concern of potential liability from a reckless, abusive doctor. If nothing else, it’ll scare the doctor that his income source will be threatened by complaints from disgruntled patients. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • guestS

    I’m no human rights expert at all, so from a complete layperson perspective, I like to think that if I were unfortunate enough to have experienced a serious human rights violation any video evidence of me at my most incredibly vulnerable would be treated with respect and privacy. That means that I would not expect it to be promoted and shared around social media websites and message boards. It feels extremely exploitative to use this footage to further any cause,

  • Trixie

    In addition to Kelly, of course — I feel sorry for the poor cop who had to take down this complaint.

  • Bombshellrisa

    I don’t know what lawyers they have talked to but there are many resources for Kelly and any woman who needs help finding a lawyer in a case like this. Women’s Law Center, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the ACLU come to mind, also Advocates for Pregnant Women. If Improving Birth directed Kelly to each of these resources and each one turned down helping her, that would be one thing, I doubt that is what has happened here. I also remember the comments where Dr Amy wanted to stop talking and actually do something for Kelly and how it became clear that the only thing Improving birth wanted to do was use the video for a midwifery/homebirth agenda.

  • Ashley Martin

    They want attention and attention they shall get – which won’t help Kelly at all.

    I’m no longer a fan of Improving Birth. I used to be – and then well – now I discover that they are only one sided and really don’t want to help improve ALL areas of birth. They shared my story but then banned and deleted a ton of people – deleting comments from myself – and even threatening to delete my entire story if “one more person” commented on that thread. How …. convenient for them … so easy to ‘erase’ my entire story if just one more person commented. I’m not sure if they ever did. They never did answer my questions or concerns on multiple updates – nor did she respond to my email. Apparently my story put them into “great distress” and they didn’t know how to handle it properly. I wonder if Kelly’s story is putting them into great distress.

    Kelly needs to file a complaint with the State. Does Improving Birth have helpful hints on how to do that? I know they don’t if you want to file a complaint against a homebirth midwife – but perhaps they have helpful links up to provide assistance against hospitals.

    And Kelly, if you are reading this, I run a Homebirth Loss and TRAUMA SUPPORT page – you are more than welcome to contact me and we can figure out how to help you privately. I care about you, as do many others on my page.

    • Trixie

      ImprovingBirth and Dawn Thompson have never taken any action that shows they actually care about improving birth for people who have experience out of hospital abuses.

      • Ashley Martin

        Of course not. Apparently our stories – whether traumatic homebirths or a homebirth loss is just too “distressing” for them. It’s easier to ignore us instead of trying to dig deep to figure out how to help and improve the homebirth midwifery system.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Ummmmm….

          How can a story be “too distressing” to be an example for improving birth?

          Isn’t that the whole point of improving birth? To take distressing experiences and try to make sure they don’t happen again?

          If what you way is true, it shows pretty clearly that they are a sham.

          • Amazed

            No longer drinking the koolaid (I think) shared that she wrote Dawn Thompson offering to share stories of terribly mismanaged OOH births showing that homebirth was in dire need of improving.

            DT’s answer? These were not stories appropriate for their site or something like that.

          • Ashley Martin

            Because those terrible homebirth stories are the mother’s fault for choosing such a crappy midwife. We should know better.

            If that is the case – please tell us – Improving Birth – how to pick a competent OOH midwife.

          • Amazed

            Of course it’s the mother’s fault for choosing such a crappy midwife. They are damned well terrified that with stories like yours being spread around in addition to the studies – even MANA’s pretence of a study – all showing that homebirth results in far more deaths and brain injuries, soon it might become the mother’s fault for choosing homebirth despite the evidence, not choosing this or that midwife. And that, Ashley, cannot be tolerated. They are simply a faux organization caring only about the interests of lay midwives.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Because those terrible homebirth stories are the mother’s fault for choosing such a crappy midwife. We should know better.

            Of course, they would never try that kind of bullshit with a doctor. Can you imagine them blowing off Kelly by saying it’s her fault for choosing such a crappy doctor?

            The whole concept would horrid. But when it comes to midwives…it’s typical.

          • Ashley Martin

            My story “threw them for a loop”.

            My story apparently gave them “ulcers” because of all the countless hours they had to spend monitoring all the comments.

            I can’t tell you how many times I was called a liar – or even how my story must be fake because the photographers version was so different.

            I asked them numerous questions which were never answered. I’m still waiting. They promise they want birth to be better everywhere but ” this is why we don’t post stories like this very often” … they don’t like to deal with the backlash. I read some of the comments I received from their members and it was disgusting.

            So sad that many mothers used to look up to them but are no longer welcome – instead – they come to me. We are blamed – told we didn’t ‘vet’ our midwives very well (okay, so tell me Improving Birth – how do we know when we have a competent midwife for homebirth) – or just told hey – watch my empowering and peaceful homebirth video so you can know what it’s like to have a peaceful one!!!

            It’s so sad, really.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Ashley, I don’t know what you could have lied about. Shoulder dystocia and meconium aren’t faked. The photographer was not the one experiencing the pain and it was not her baby that was in NICU, so your version is the one that should be trusted. I hope that you can get some answers, you have really been through enough already.

          • KarenJJ

            Plus I can imagine that the birth photographer has a financial incentive not to go against a midwife that might start bad-mouthing their business and not recommend them to future clients.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            We are blamed – told we didn’t ‘vet’ our midwives very well (okay, so
            tell me Improving Birth – how do we know when we have a competent
            midwife for homebirth)

            It’s almost like, if they wanted to help improve birth, they could do things like…help ensure strict standards for midwives to make it easier for women to “vet” them properly.

            FFS, it’s their own story! “You need to do a better job choosing your midwives”
            “OK, how do we help women do that?”
            “Look at this nice video of my birth over here…”

        • anh

          They are fucking vultures. They are upset by hospital trauma but try to ignore your very real trauma away. Do only some women get rights? Are some women more equal than others?

  • Laura Thomas

    They could also encourage Kelly to file her own complaint directly with the State Board of Medicine in California. The web site instructions are easy and straightforward. They could also encourage Kelly to file a grievance with her insurance against the doctor whom the insurance company paid. Both actions would result in unwanted folks poking their noses into the doctor’s behavior without Kelly even having to spend time and money in a lawyer’s office. (Although I highly recommend a lawyer in this case!) I have heard stories of women who have had violent, unwanted episiotomies and the women have been too afraid to file the paperwork I mentioned above. If those women had the emotional support and requisite hand holding, perhaps they would feel less victimized by the situation and actually effect a desirable outcome.

    • attitude devant

      Oh this is so true. ANYONE can file a complaint with the Medical Board about care they have received. It is VERY effective, and it’s free. The board will open a whole investigation and the doctor can wind up censured or even stripped of a license. The defendant doctor has to hire an attorney to represent him, and goes through quite a miserable experience in general.

      • Bombshellrisa

        That speaks volumes for what they are really about.

        • Lauren

          Not sure if it is true of all of Ontario (where I am) or just the hospital I was at, but when we had negligent care in the ER triage during our second miscarriage, the hospital actually contacted me personally via phone to take down my account and then gave updates as to the inquest that came out. The persons involved were actually put on voluntary leave while the inquest happened (so about a day, maybe two), and there were reprimands and other disciplinary action. Not that it helps me. They did offer the services of the on-site counsellor(s), but I declined in favour of finding my own.
          However, the hospital then contacted me to inquire as to whether I wanted to file a formal complaint in another area (which I assumed to mean, the medical board, through a lawyer, etc). I didn’t, because there is nothing to be gained – those involved have been disciplined, and hopefully it won’t happen to another woman.
          Or, it will be part of the impetus of change whereby pregnant women are not expected to use the damn ER instead of the OB ER ward.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I am glad that there was communication and that you were given the option of pursing a formal complaint. I do hope that what happened to you can be spun into positive change for pregnant women.

      • Laura Thomas

        Yep. And the fear that women like Kelly have is that they go through this process, which can be traumatizing, and that the Board does “nothing.” In reality, if this doctor has behaved this way with her, he/she has done it to others. The more women file these incident reports, the more a case is built. Each time the doctor is “put on notice” and goes through hell with Board investigators breathing down his neck. He does have to answer for his actions. In time, the Board will take appropriate action.

      • PrimaryCareDoc

        So true! I had a patient make a complaint to the Board about me. I had told her that she was at a high risk of a heart attack and that I recommended a statin. She didn’t want to take one. Fine. I told her I felt that it was a bad decision, but it was her decision, so fine.

        She made a complaint to the board that I “bullied” her.

        It dragged on for about 4 months, and involved a lot of time, stress and work on my part to fight the charges.

        It was eventually ruled unfounded and the case was closed, but they keep in on file to refer to for when the next batshit insane patient complains about me.

        So I don’t believe for one minute that the Board of Medicine in California took a look at a complaint of that magnitude and the video and said, “no biggie. We’ll ignore it.”

        • fiftyfifty1

          Yes, every time a complaint is made it must be investigated. The Board does not have power to just throw out a complaint, no matter how bizarre. I believe I have shared here before about the complaint a patient made to the Board about me. He came in smelling of alcohol and obviously intoxicated. I made him angry by declining the controlled substance he demanded. He complained to the Board in a rambling, paranoid multi-page barely legible letter which he waited until 6/6/6 to deliver to the Board (and told them that in the letter). It accused me, among other things, of having sex with the Devil in his presence in the exam room. I was required to address every one of his points and provide explanations and documentation. e.g. “Mr. S____ states I had sex with Satan in front of him during his visit. This claim is untrue. I did not have sex with Satan or anyone else in the exam room”. “Mr. S____ claims I did not examine him. Here is a copy of his chart note, with exam documented.” etc etc.

          It took hours of my time, and took months for for me to hear back that the case had been closed. And it remains in your file.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            “Mr. Satan is not a patient of our practice, and we do not allow visitors in the exam rooms who are not authorized partners or guardians of the patients. Therefore, Satan could not have been in the exam room while Mr S was there, and I could not have had sex with him.”

          • Dr Kitty

            A significant proportion of complaints made by patients are either vexatious, due to mental illness, or are otherwise unfounded (for example if your doctor wouldn’t give you a prescription for the amphetamines, morphine, Lyrica and diazepam you feel you need it doesn’t necessarily make them a bad doctor, nor you a victim of malpractice or negligence).

            All complaints, even the ones written in green crayon, get investigated and kept on file. Even the vexatious or unfounded ones.
            I don’t think people understand that.

            If someone comes to see me who is obviously intoxicated and not obviously requiring life saving treatment they are offered two choices- come back to see me when they are less impaired, or continue the consultation today with a chaperone present for both our protection.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “come back to see me when they are less impaired, or continue the consultation today with a chaperone present for both our protection.”

            ooohh, good idea.

          • Dr Kitty

            Learnt that one the hard way (drunk patients can get violent when they don’t get their own way-thankfully all it took to resolve the situation was to push the panic button and let him know the police were en route, and I wasn’t hurt).

            I’m a small female.
            I am really not on board with being in rooms alone with drunk angry men (I’ve not yet had a drunk female patient) if it can possibly be avoided, and I’m also not on board with opening myself up to accusations of wrongdoing by people who can’t remember the consultation accurately.

            A friend of mine had a patient pull a machete on him…and then make a complaint about breach of confidentiality because the police were called…

            I care about patients, but not enough to put my personal safety or my professional career at risk…

          • fiftyfifty1

            “I’ve not yet had a drunk female patient”

            Interesting. In my experience they are not as common as drunk men, but I certainly do get them. Cultural differences maybe between where you practice and where I do?

          • Dr Kitty

            Yeah…
            Women mildly impaired by benzos I get from time to time, but drunk, no.
            Definitely cultural.
            For some reason my female alcoholic patients prefer to come and see me withdrawing, my male alcoholic patients prefer to see me with a few drinks on board.
            Irish people have a famously dysfunctional relationship with alcohol.

          • Laura Thomas

            I had a legitimate complaint against one of my doctors several years ago. I didn’t file with the Board, but with my insurance company instead. It was lengthy and very detailed. As a complainant, I was not privy to the outcome of what the insurance company reviewer had to say about my case. But, I do know that the doctor had to explain every issue I raised. I figured that it was stressful for him. I was not happy about this and really hesitated to do it. I wasn’t seeking revenge, but some accountability. I have no idea how it impacted him, and to this day I would feel uncomfortable if I saw him, but I believe I did the right thing. I sincerely hoped that it helped him to be more aware of areas that he needed to improve upon to better his patient care.

          • Rlbobg

            Medical boards are MUCH more on the side of the patient than the doc. There was a patient who filed a complaint about ME, when in actuality they had seen ANOTHER doctor in the practice and THOUGHT they had seen me— and I STILL had to fight the claim, (trying to prove the case of “mistaken identity!) and it hung over my head for YEARS!! So no– they do not ignore ANYThing!!!

          • Empliau

            Rosemary’s doctor … with just a soupçon of the Church Lady.

        • attitude devant

          I had one too. It was similarly baseless and was dismissed promptly, but it was a total nightmare. If Kelly really wants to get this guy where he lives, a board complaint will do it.

      • Ash

        The admin deleted and banned you for suggesting that the person take recourse with the state medical board?

        That is crazy. Why would they not want people to know that you can file a complaint through the medical board? What is this crazy agenda?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          What is this crazy agenda?

          Well, certainly nothing to do with helping women.

        • attitude devant

          Well, I asked myself the same question. At the time you could, on their site, view bios of the Improving Birth executives and staff (I couldn’t find it yesterday). I carefully looked for whatever I could find on all of them, and, surprise, surprise, it turns out that they all had been involved in various pro-midwifery groups and pro-homebirth groups, you know, the type that view any regulation of midwives as a witch hunt. So, take that piece of information, and then add in the fact that they have declined to help people trying to address bullying and such in out-of-hospital births, and what do you get? A group that is trying really really hard to make it look like hospitals brutalize mothers and that no one except the midwifery crowd will help.

          Mind you, I think what this a-hole did to Kelly was wrong, wrong, wrong, but I think this publicity effort is a particularly cynical attempt to further an agenda that has very little to do with justice for Kelly.

  • Lindsay

    OT: Modern Alternative Mama is pissing me off. I posted a comment which shows that it’s still awaiting moderation, but of course she let through a comment posted after mine that was praising her article.

  • Staceyjw

    Have you ever seen anti rape advocates spreading the intimate video of a womans trauma online, and working hard to make sure everyone sees it?
    I didn’t think so.
    So why is it ok to repeatedly spread this, and even show it to cops, who are likely to be men? They scream birth rape, but they sure don’t treat the victims with any kind of sensitivity.
    THEY are increasing the trauma now, not helping. They would do better to buy her a coffee and have a quiet talk, then do what they are doing now. Even doing nothing would be an improvement. Actually raising money to get her legit help? That’s so far off their plan I shouldn’t even mention it.

    • guestS

      Oh! Just made the same point further up, sorry! Can’t understand how spreading such a video translates to the actions of a human rights organisation at all either!

  • Guesty

    Could we raise money to help Kelly? I’d really like to see that doctor sanctioned.

    • attitude devant

      Dr. Amy has offered to help her find a lawyer, and a complaint to the Board is free. Trust me, Improving Birth is reading and willing to take your $$ but if you think your money will go to help her, I’ve got this gorgeous bridge across San Francisco Bay that I’d like to sell you. Great views, super income opportunity.

  • Stacy48918

    OT – GOT THE ORDER!
    Kids have appointments to start their vaccines. 😀

    Love ya’ll 😉

    • Empliau

      Woohoo! Congratulations!

    • Dr Kitty

      I’m so happy for you!

    • Guesty

      Yaaaaaay! Well done!

    • sdsures

      Yaaaaay!

    • Amazed

      So happy for you!

    • Samantha06

      Congratulations!

    • Trixie

      Woo hoo! And not a moment too soon, with this measles scare.

    • Mishimoo

      Awesome! Congratulations 😀

    • anh

      Yes!!! You are a rock star! I wish you were my kitties’ vet

      • Stacy48918

        Thanks, but honestly, no you don’t want me to be your cat’s vet. I work ER exclusive. You really don’t want to have to come see me. 😉

        • Bombshellrisa

          I would have been a happier case with my cat-I rushed him to the pet ER one night when his sneaky ways ended up in a candle spilling on him. No, he wasn’t on fire, he spilled purple wax all over his flame point self. I freaked out. ((For the record, he was trying to jump on my husband’s back while he sat on the stairs putting his shoes on. There was a console table he was going to use as a stepping stone and wouldn’t you know it, a cross eyed cat who had been declawed in front by his previous owners couldn’t quite navigate it and “put the brakes on”. And so he collided with the purple candle. No burns or long term damage but he was purple for a few months))

          • Who?

            Did you trim the wax off his fur? It must have driven him crazy when he was grooming himself.

            We’d just had the back verandah floor resurfaced when the dog raced out there having heard a sound-he hit the skids at the usual spot but the new surface was way more slippery than the old one-and shot straight off the edge. Lucky only 2 steps on to soft grass so pride injured more than anything else, he looked pretty stunned when he stood up though!

  • attitude devant

    I’m surprised you didn’t review the fact that you offered to help Kelly find an attorney who would take your case and Improving Birth’s response was to delete your comment. They are not interested in helping this woman.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    ImprovingBirth.org has already publicly acknowledged that it is a useless gesture.

    When they say they have spoken to many lawyers, I imagine it was an attempt to find someone to take the case on a contingency basis (for free). No one was interested in helping Kelly for free.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      More:

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I can’t even see how it’s “going to make her feel better” because the police are going to tell her, “don’t look at us. That’s a civil matter.”

        How does getting blown off by the police make anyone feel better?

      • Amy M

        HOw long ’til they ban Naima?

    • Amazed

      Except for someone in the comments they promptly deleted. One of the commenters here suggested her brother but I don’t think he was one of the attorneys they talked to.

      To be fair, they might have been unable to contact him, deleting the thread and all.

    • yugaya

      The wording “for this woman” makes it sound like ImprovingBirth is determining what an empty gesture feels like instead of her.

      Repulsive behaviour on their part but despite that I wish she finds justice in whatever form for what she went through.

    • Melissa

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the lawyers suggested she go through the medical board first before they would take the case, if only because the case is much easier and less expensive if you can come in with a decision from the board. For whatever reason they seem uninterested in pursuing the complaint route. The cynical part of me suspect that it is because if Kelly does get justice via the administrative route it contradicts the lie that the medical system is against women.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    They’re…going to the police station? Really? I can’t even.

  • Zoey

    So, they are seriously going to take a possible victim of medical malpractice and take her to a police station, where I assume they will ask one or more police officers (most likely to be men and almost certainly with no medical training) to watch a video of a medical procedure done on her vagina.

    I know the video has been made public for anyone to see, but I fail to see how this would be anything but at the very least really uncomfortable for the victim (not to mention pointless) and at worst, even more traumatizing.

    • Anonymous

      That’s the point. The idea here is to yell “See! It’s a giant conspiracy against women! This man injured here and these men are protecting him! Donate money!”

    • Allie P

      Malpractice is a civil issue, am I wrong? There is no criminal case. What can police do? People accused of malpractice are not arrested. People convicted of malpractice are not arrested. We have a judicial system.

      • Melissa

        I think they are saying that the doctor should be charged with assault and battery since they did not have consent to touch her in the way they did. That is a crime, but there is an exception for the need for consent if it is an emergency. In any case, they would likely still say that she should make a civil claim since the police are not medical experts able to know if what was happening would constitute an emergency.

  • guestS

    What do they mean by ‘give them the chance to do the right thing’. That seems pretty ambiguous. What would be ‘the right thing’ by improving birth?

    • MegaMechaMeg

      I think the right thing in their opinion would be the police dismissing them so they can write another angry blog post, but that might just be me being a bitch.

      • Amazed

        Or it might just be you being right. Hermine Whatever is a fuckinh lawyer. She can’t be ignorant that medical malpractice isn’t in the police’s field of action. Nowhere. In. The. World. Unless the doctor is taped cutting the already born baby into pieces.

        • Bombshellrisa

          She is a lawyer? I did not know that. There are lots of lawyers who work with Advocates for Pregnant Women or whatever the organization is called that was helping the woman in Florida who was involved with the court ordered c-section case. The woman who wrote from calling to courtroom is a lawyer now and so is her husband. Surely one of those people could help Kelly.

          • Amazed

            They could. If the purpose of the whole fiesta is helping Kelly, of course.

    • Amy M

      This is a great question—I am clueless about law stuff, but that video alone would not be grounds for police to arrest the doctor, would it? I mean if it was a video of him cutting off her arm just for the hell of it, maybe, but even if it was medical malpractice, isn’t that a civil case? Or does it count as a criminal case?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Not even close, right?

        Because it’s not like the police can determine that it was an “unnecessary” episiotomy.

        She was in the hospital, being treated by doctors. If anyone thinks what they did is wrong, that’s a civil suit.

        What else is there to talk about?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I am clueless about law stuff, but that video alone would not be grounds for police to arrest the doctor, would it? I

        Think of it this way: specifically, what law did he break? “Cutting an episiotomy when it it not medically indicated” is going to be found in any criminal law in California or any other state.

        That’s why we have the civil court system – to address things that are wrong that are not specified as so in the criminal law

        • Amy M

          Yeah. I realize that improving birth must know this is a pointless stupid thing to do, but it kind of baffles me why they would even think of it? Even I (ignorant of law terms) could figure out that going to the police was totally inappropriate, so I would think most people could figure that out, or at least google it or something. It makes no sense.

        • just me

          Could be PC 242 battery or PC 240 assault depending on facts but a civil case would best address her situation if in fact it was a forced episiotomy for no reason (haven’t read story). So technically could be criminal although not sure if police would file case with DA or whether DA would take case.

      • Daleth

        Right, obviously. This is a civil case. It’s completely insane to take this woman to the police.

  • Cobalt

    I hope Kelly gets some real help, and that help includes as a side effect setting a good precedent for weeding out bad OBs. I know bad doctors have been removed before, but there’s no reason to not try to improve the process and make it more difficult for lobbyists like Improving Birth to exploit others.

  • Young CC Prof

    A real human rights organization would find her a pro bono lawyer, or pay for her to get a lawyer! That is what human rights organizations do for people who have their rights violated, assuming it happens in a country with a reasonably functional legal system. They get legal representation, and help file complaints and lawsuits in the most effective way.

    Hopefully a sympathetic police officer will tell her to file a complaint with the Board of Medicine.

    • Mel

      You are far more optimistic than I am. I am skeptical that “Kelly” is really involved in this at all. It’s far easier for ImprovingBirth to say they are helping her while doing absolutely nothing.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Absolutely. We have one in our state that providers pro bono lawyers and other services. I am in their panel of pro bono doctors. We do free exams and write amicus curiae statements and testify if need be.