Homebirth advocate proudly publishes paper with convicted sexual predator

sexual predator, 3D rendering, traffic sign

Homebirth has a #MeToo problem.

Homebirth advocate Rixa Freeze has proudly announced her scientific paper published in conjunction with convicted sexual predator Stuart Fischbein, MD.

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The paper is Breech birth at home: outcomes of 60 breech and 109 cephalic planned home and birth center births.

How can homebirth advocates, who claim to support women against the patriarchal medical establishment, continue to embrace a sexual predator?

Freeze, an English professor with no medical training, is an unassisted birth advocate who nearly killed her third child at unassisted birth in 2011.

In keeping with the narcissism of the unassisted birth movement, Freeze recorded her labor and birth in excruciating detail and then offered publicly it for the world to admire. She inadvertently produced the ideal teaching video for demonstrating how and why babies die in increased numbers at homebirth.

The video includes the immediate aftermath of the birth when baby Inga became profoundly blue and lost all muscle tone due to lack of oxygen. Ultimately Rixa was forced to provide mouth to mouth resuscitation and fortunately, the baby responded. But the baby could have been born already compromised by lack of oxygen during labor. In that case, she would have required a lot more help. She might have needed real and prolonged positive pressure ventilation, she might have needed CPR, she might have needed intubation. Had she been born requiring any of those things (and none of them were available) she likely would have died.

Apparently there’s no problem if you nearly kill your baby during homebirth. That’s half the fun!

But, in my view, there is a big problem if with you work with a convicted sexual predator. Sexual exploitation is probably the most egregious violation of professional conduct that any obstetrician-gynecologist can commit. Dr. Stuart Fischbein is the infamous “Bedside Man.”

According to the Ventura County Star:

His patient, identified in Medical Board records as S.K., was 14 years younger than he and earning her doctorate degree in psychology. She came to Fischbein’s office in Century City with her fiancee. They wanted to have a baby.

… He performed surgery … to remove a mass in her uterus and called her “sweet pea” in the recovery room. He sat at her bedside for long intimate talks, testifying in a hearing he viewed her as not just a patient, but as a woman…

She said he advised her not to have sex for four to six weeks after surgery. Fischbein said in court he didn’t remember the discussion.

Five days after she was released from the hospital and eight days after surgery, he called and asked to visit her at her home in Los Angeles. They had sex then and again two days later at Fischbein’s home…

The California Board of Medicine placed him on probation for 7 years and mandated a chaperone when he examined patients. Unfortunately it didn’t end there.

Early in the probationary period Dr. Fischbein petitioned the Board for termination of probation. They were appalled to learn what he had been doing since his conviction:

In the Fall of 2007, after Petitioner was placed on probation by the Board, he began working with a screenwriter friend on a … a script entitled “Bedside Man.” … The cover of the script states it is “based on a true story,” and credits “Story by Stuart Fischbein.” A promotional trailer was later made, in which Petitioner was also involved and credited… Although fictional names are used in the story, the script and trailer are obviously based on Petitioner’s version of events. [They] tend to minimize Petitioner’s culpability, make him look more like a victim and his victim less of one, and depict Petitioner as being persecuted for his views on some aspects of medicine.

In an effort to promote “Bedside Man” for financial investment to make a full length movie, the trailer was made accessible over the internet. One hospital where Petitioner was affiliated found out about it and contacted Petitioner’s psychotherapist… From her letter detailing the events, it appears that [she] was readily able to see the impropriety of the project while Petitioner had not…

The Board did not terminate the probation, noting:

He has openly chaffed at the requirement that he have a third party chaperone during interactions with female patients. It is clear that once off probation, the chaperone requirement would quickly disappear from his practice as the lessons learned from these events fade and the inconvenience grows…

More alarming was Petitioner’s participation in the movie script and trailer. This activity shows that Petitioner still harbors bad feelings about what happened to him, suggesting that he does not fully believe he engaged in misconduct… Such a state of mind does not bode well for the proposition of removing Petitioner completely from the Board’s probationary oversight. In all, these events demonstrate sufficient concern over the course of Petitioner’s rehabilitation as to indicate that continuing probation with all terms should continue in order to protect the public…

Rixa Freeze has been a staunch supporter of Fischbein all along. In the wake of the Board refusing to revoke his probation, he was threatened with legal action to remove his hospital privileges. Freeze wrote in a post entitled Another Dr. Wonderful needs your help!:

…[A] wonderful obstetrician, Dr. Stuart Fischbein, is being threatened with disciplinary action by his hospital “for violating hospital policies.” The hospital has already suspended the privileges of the two CNMs he works with, and now he faces a possible loss of his livelihood…

Dr. Fischbein is a vocal supporter of midwifery and home birth. His collaborative midwife practice had a primary c-section rate last year of only 5% … and an overall rate of 12% … compared to his colleagues’ 29%…

So what can you do to help? …

Contribute to Dr. Fischbein’s Legal Aid Fund.

I have a question for Rixa Freeze and other homebirth advocates who continue to support and collaborate with Dr. Fischbein:

How can homebirth advocates, who claim to support women against the patriarchal medical establishment, continue to embrace a sexual predator?

I cannot possible imagine a moral justification for ignoring sexual predation but perhaps they can.

  • Anna

    Homebirth advocates will promote the devil himself if it suits their agenda. The former Maternity Coalition – now Maternity Choices Australia has been taken over by hard line homebirth advocates, some of them are also openly anti-vax and they are promoting this study. This is one of the two consumer representative groups that speak for all Australian women on committees, in the media etc. Now both groups are run by doulas and homebirth activists that promote homebirth at all costs. Note Rixa thanks people for their donations. Was that donations to get the “study” published?

    • RudyTooty

      Long before I’d ever heard of old “Bedside Man” Dr Fischbein, I’d noticed that the local home birth and midwife supporting-physicians had some ulterior motives for getting into bed (figuratively speaking) with CPMs/LMs and doulas.

      They’d been forced to resign from their positions in physician practices due to some shoddy medical decisions, or they had a raging cocaine and prostitute habit that they couldn’t kick…. they didn’t know how to any other damn thing but be an OBGYN…. so they’d start courting the local doulas and midwives and natural birth nutters looking to drum up some business in an alternative venue.

      It was pretty blatant. And gross.

      Dr “Bedside Man” Fischbein figured out a way to make it work – make risky birth (twins, breech) at home a boutique and haute couture birthing endeavor, shamelessly flattering the CPMs, and voila: he has a new livelihood.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Dr “Bedside Man” Fischbein figured out a way to make it work – make risky birth (twins, breech) at home a boutique and haute couture birthing endeavor, shamelessly flattering the CPMs, and voila: he has a new livelihood.

        ..and some poontang to go with it….

        He’s a friggin predator.

  • mostlyclueless

    Fucking shame on BMC.

  • Sue

    One death among ten in-labor transports in the breech group:

    “All 10 in-labor breech transports were primiparas and were transported for arrested labor/descent at or beyond 6 cm (n = 7) or during second stage (n = 3) (Table 4). None were emergent when the decision to transport was made. Six had a non-emergent cesarean section upon admission; these babies did well and none required NICU admission. The seventh mother transferred for a stalled labor at 7 cm and prolonged rupture of membranes. She was afebrile with normal maternal vital signs and reassuring structured intermittent fetal auscultation at the time of recommended transfer. She transferred to a local hospital that did not offer the option of a vaginal breech birth and was thus admitted for a planned cesarean section with the fetal heartrate in the 150–160 s range without decelerations. The fetal monitoring was not felt to require urgent cesarean delivery; however, more than two hours after admission there was a prolonged bradycardia in the operating room and a cesarean was performed under spinal anesthesia. Neonatal resuscitation was unsuccessful.”

    • FormerPhysicist

      I wish we could hear the hospital’s side of this. It sounds bad, but I *know* it’s written to sound like the hospital’s fault.

      • swbarnes2

        I wonder if the mom prevented the hospital from monitoring the way they wanted to. Or, this is just more proof that vaginal breech is dangerous, even in a hospital.

        • rosewater1

          Depends on the hospital. At the one I worked at, people were on the monitor as soon as possible and a c/s could be called within minutes. The 2 hour delay might have had to do with anesthesia availability.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            More importantly, does anyone think the outcome would have been better had she not gone to the hospital?

          • rosewater1

            Nobody with a lick of sense, as my mother used to say.

    • Merrie

      So that’s seven moms, but ten were transported. What happened to the other three?

      • swbarnes2

        They claim they didn’t have full medical records for all the transfers

        • Merrie

          I don’t like those odds much.

  • Sue

    “Most women with breech babies tried chiropractic Webster technique, acupuncture with moxabustion, inversions, and Spinning Babies exercises” LOLing.

    • Anna

      As happily promoted by EVERY homebirth organisation AND the Australian College of Midwives!

  • Sue

    Not your average homebirth: as well as an OB:

    “Equipment brought to each birth included IV fluids and tubing, sterile gloves, gauze, pads, betadine, suture material, and instruments. The birth team also supplied an inflatable birth pool. Medications included antibiotics, lidocaine, oxytocin, misoprostol, oral methylergonovine, vitamin K, and oxygen. In this series SJF also carried a portable GE Voluson ultrasound, a Masimo pulse oximeter, a Mityvac vacuum, Piper forceps, Simpson forceps, and Tucker-McLean forceps. All licensed practitioners were certified in neonatal resuscitation and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.”

    If every HB were run like that, there might still be increased morbidity and mortality for first-timers, but nothing like is currently seen.

    • Anna

      Zactly.

  • Sue

    Yet another study showing poorer outcomes for first-timers, even in a paper by pro-HBers.

    If they were serious about maternal and neonatal safety, they’s say “don’t do it at home the first time” – but, of course, it’s not about safety but about ideology.

  • mwguest

    Check out one of Rixa’s co-conspirators at a recent breech skills workshop:

    http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-xpm-19990121-1999-01-21-9901250139-story.html

    • Anna

      In that article the Father says “we’d do it again…” – um dude, your wife is dead!

  • Eater of Worlds

    If you contact Go Fund Me they may pull the posting and return the money because of his sexual predator conviction. Was he legally convicted or was it all done civilly through the medical board? Either way, someone with the proper language to explain it should contact GoFundMe ASAP about the sexual predator raising money.

    https://www.gofundme.com/mvc.php?route=contact/suggest There’s an option for stopping fundraiser that is based on fraud trust and safety.

    • Elizabeth

      He was legally convicted of sexual exploitation of a patient.

  • Ewww. I hope prospective patients are warned about this creep. Chaperone or no, I wouldn’t want him anywhere near me.

  • Considering that the Brits removed Andrew Wakefield from the medical register, I’m wondering why DR Fischbein is being allowed to retain use of his MD title and attend patients in any capacity whatsoever.

    Anyone who compares Fischbein to “Dr. Wonderful” ought to be wary. That’ll come back to bite. I well remember Navelgazing Midwife gushing all over him only to have the guts to disown him when the truth came out. [She’s out of midwifery altogether, if anyone wonders]

  • FormerPhysicist

    Considered what Ina May Gaskin has proudly written about, promoted and been adulated for … I can’t say I’m surprised.

  • From Rixa Freeze one expects almost anything. Sadly.

  • CSN0116

    So much ummm here.

    A *braggadocious* sexual predator? Crowdsourcing funding to publish a paper? LOL I didn’t think BMC was pay to publish? Also notable – the paper was received a year prior to when it was actually accepted. Someone made them edit the hell out of it. I’d love to read round 1.

    • DaisyGrrl

      The paper went through open peer review, so the reviewer comments are available here: https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-018-2033-5/open-peer-review

      If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can email the journal to obtain the pre-publication versions of the manuscripts (although I think the comments give a good overview of what changes were required).

      • CSN0116

        I will read this, thank you! I have never seen FIVE rounds of revisions! Holy shit.

        • Yeah, after some point, you conclude that the ol’ paper needs to be taken out back and shot in the head rather than suffering the extended misery of revision after revision. That point is well before five rounds of revisions.

      • CSN0116

        Their original submission had track changes on it. OMG hahahahahaha