Henci Goer defends the natural childbirth industry on an industry website


You can’t make this stuff up.

I woke up this morning to find that Gaye Demanuele, the midwife who watched Caroline Lovell bleed to death at her homebirth, extolling a piece by Henci Goer’s “rebuttal” of my Washington Post piece How the natural birth industry sets mothers up for guilt and shame.

I wrote:

…[T]he crunchy natural-birth subculture has slowly morphed into an industry, mainly catering to the most privileged women in society. Second, a cabal of natural-birth activists — online, on the air and even inside hospitals.

Goer, a stalwart of the natural childbirth industry, who makes her money selling books about natural childbirth, takes to her new website, selling her natural childbirth videos ($5 per video, $25 for a yearly subscription), to disagree.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]C’mon Henci, you may think your followers are gullible and stupid, but no one is that stupid![/pullquote]

As with most things that come from the industry, it’s an exercise in mendacity.

Goer starts with a dig:

Amy Tuteur has managed to score a commentary in the Washington Post … You would think that the inflammatory rhetoric would have given the Post’s editors a clue that they should get their fact checkers on the case. If they had, they would have realized that the piece cherry picks bits out of context, distorts and sensationalizes the data, and just plain makes statements that are factually incorrect, but perhaps the “Dr.” in front of her name gave her an automatic pass…

Goer appears to be oblivious to the fact the piece is adapted from my new book PUSH BACK: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting. I’ve done quite a few print pieces and radio interviews to promote the book. The Washington Post CHOSE to post an excerpt from the book and THEY chose this excerpt.

Poor Henci. She whines that the “Dr.” In front of my name gives me an automatic pass. She’s apparently disgusted that someone would take the word of a Harvard educated, Harvard trained obstetrician gynecologist who’s written for The New York Times, TIME.com, The London Times and a variety of other publications instead of Goer, who has NO formal training in midwifery, medicine or anything else. Goer is a legend in her own mind, a self-appointed “expert” in the obstetrical literature. Who else considers her an expert? No one.

I’ve written about Goer and her mendacity for years and first challenged her to a debate in 2008.

Her lies back then were legion:

“…The blanket accusation that U.S. direct-entry midwives have less training than other midwives in industrialized countries requires no denial because it is fatuous.”

“… If Amy Tuteur is saying that our perinatal mortality rate is low, that is just not true.”

And my personal favorite:

“I don’t know if you ran across that thread while surfing this Forum, but some of us–including me–theorize that “Dr. Amy” is a disinformation strategy of the American College of Ob/Gyns. We can’t prove it, of course.”

So much for Goer’s vaunted “research” skills.

Goer ended up banning me from her message board; it was far easier than acknowledging that I was telling the truth and she was trying to deceive women.

Goer tries the same disinformation tactics in her “rebuttal.”

I wrote in WaPo:

A study in Oregon found that the death rate for babies delivered in planned home births with midwives in 2012 was roughly seven times that of hospital-born babies.

And Goer inexplicably replies:

Tuteur appears to be referring to Snowden (2015). After adjustment for maternal characteristics and medical conditions, the odds ratio for perinatal death in planned out-of-hospital birth was 2.4 times that of planned hospital birth, amounting to an absolute difference of 1.5 more deaths per 1000. Nowhere is there a mention of a 7-fold greater mortality rate.

No, I’m referring to the Rooks 2012 dataset from Oregon and I’d be willing to bet serious money that Goer knows exactly what I’m talking about.


She knows as well as I do that the Rooks data shows that planned homebirth with a licensed homebirth midwife had a death rate 800% higher than comparable risk hospital birth and there’s no way she can rebut that data. Instead she choose to substitute a study on a different group (including birth centers) done 3 years later which reached NO conclusion about homebirth itself.

I guess she figures her readers are so gullible that they won’t notice.

I wrote:

The Midwives Alliance of North America . . . is a major professional organization for American midwives but requires no educational credentials of its roughly 450 members beyond a high school diploma.

And Goer nonsensically replies with:

MANA has nothing to do with the training or credentialing of direct-entry midwives …

I didn’t say it did. I said it requires no educational credentials beyond a high school diploma and it doesn’t.

I guess Goer figures natural childbirth advocates are stupid as well as gullible.

I wrote:

Lamaze’s website states, adding with a note of pity that an epidural still might be needed if a mother ‘can’t move beyond [her] fear of labor pain.’ Rather than teaching strictly the facts about childbirth, Lamaze promotes one particular vision of labor as normal and therefore good.

And Goer tries this whopper:

Tuteur’s quote is taken out of context.

Says the person who wrote The Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth. It’s an implicit insult to women who don’t follow her precepts but no doubt Goer would claim that the title is taken out of context.

In what context is it appropriate to claim that epidurals are for a women who ‘can’t move beyond [her] fear of labor pain?

In what context is it appropriate to promote “normal” birth as better than any other form of birth?

C’mon Henci, you may think your followers are gullible and stupid, but no one is that stupid!

Goer is a paper tiger. She fancies herself an “expert” in obstetric research yet she won’t appear in any forum where the people who do most of the obstetric research (obstetricians) could question her on her claims. She deletes and bans people from her websites when she can’t address their substantive claims. She has point blank refused to publicly debate me because she knows her arguments would be eviscerated in short order.

She’s exactly what I rail about when I criticize the natural childbirth industry, an industry that puts personal beliefs ahead of scientific facts, and uses shame and guilt in order to profit.