Safe spaces for mothers who subject their babies to medical abuse and neglect?

Safe Space Notice Board

Unassisted brake repair. Supportive comments only. No scaremongering.

Sounds stupid, right?

As a baby struggled, suffered and died, her mother was receiving encouragement to avoid medical assistance.

What conclusions could we draw about an internet forum with that description?

  • The people who created the forum have no interest is hearing anything other than what they already believe.
  • The people who created and use the forum understand that the evidence against their choice is very persuasive, so they won’t allow anyone to present it.
  • The people who created and use the forum know that their choice is very dangerous and that the truth about it is scary.
  • The people who use the forum have doubts about their decision, so they are anxious for “support.”
  • The people who use the forum want to promote their choice and therefore have to suppress the truth about the dangers of their choice.
  • The people who created and use the forum lack the most basic knowledge about brakes and have convinced themselves that nothing can go wrong if they do it themselves.

Simply put, the people who created and use the forum know that their choice is dangerous and unsupported by evidence, but are looking for those who will cheer them on as they blithely risk their lives and those of anyone who drives with them.

How about an Internet forum for women who choose unassisted childbirth?

Yesterday I wrote about the response of freebirth advocates to a report of baby who was stillborn — dead for days before her birth — because her mother was committed to unassisted childbirth despite multiple risks factors and multiple signs of serious infection and fetal distress. As the baby struggled, suffered and died, the mother was receiving support from an unassisted birth Facebook group encouraging her to avoid medical assistance.

Birth attendant Sarah Tuck defended both the mother and the group.

5773B6A5-2C0C-495E-95A4-C7A28D77D555

Perhaps she wanted to get support and not be burned at the stake for choosing autonomous birth. We need safe groups for birth support …

Here’s my question: are women entitled to safe spaces for encouraging each other to risk their babies lives?

You might argue that since a woman has a right to control her own body prior to birth and has no legal obligation to consider the impact on the fetus, there is nothing wrong with constructing a safe space to support her.

How about when we are talking about medical neglect of babies after birth?

Should there be safe spaces for mothers to encourage each other in refusing vaccination and refusing medical care for the inevitable cases of pertussis?

Shayla Cherry was looking for praise when she posted about her toddler’s near death from whooping cough.

One week in and my son’s cough was only getting worse. We were up all night as he began coughing every hour, on the hour. He developed a sharp, desperate inhale; a characteristic whoop every mother hopes to never hear. I began researching pertussis with a sinking heart. Little did I know, we were in for a long and exhausting winter.

The next month was spent indoors as whooping cough tore through our home. Our days were filled with movies, cuddled together in our cozy haze. Sometimes when the coughing woke him at night, he was so exhausted that he’d fall back to sleep without nursing…

On our bed propped on an incline, we slept in fifty-minute bursts. We welcomed play at 2am in the dim hallway light when a coughing fit left him wide awake.

Is she entitled to a safe space to receive support for nearly killing her own child?

How about parents who “treat” their autistic children with bleach?

Why do they do it? Because a quack declared that autism is caused by parasites and that ingesting bleach and bleach enemas can kill those parasites. The following was posted in a Facebook group that had thousands of members dedicated to treating autism with bleach.

Hi everyone I NEED HELP!

My daughter is 7 years old been on cd [chlorine dioxide: bleach] for 4.5 months and began her third pp [parasite protocol] this month. A week ago I began double dosing because she hits her head and gets irritated when her little sister speaks loudly, which causes her to want to head butt her.

I did 38 drops a couple of days ago and she seemed fine and my husband, forgetting, gave her 36 drops on the first day of pp. So yesterday I did 38 drops and she kept going to bathroom and refused to eat. I was a little concerned when she didn’t want to finish her lunch and kept and eye on her.

When dinner time came, I have her mebendazole [anti-parasite medication] she started gagging so I gave her some almond milk and had her sit on the couch. After 5 minutes I gave her her late bite of dinner and not even a minute passed when she threw everything up …

This is the worst kind of medical child abuse imaginable and sadly her mother was abusing her not because she doesn’t care about her but because she does. Is she entitled to a safe space to receive support for her torture of her child?

There are no easy answers to these questions. Free speech is a critical right and we do not want to interfere with that right.

On the other hand, there is no right to subject your child to medical abuse and neglect or to hide evidence of it. There is no right to maintain ignorance. There is no right to be sheltered from criticism. Safe spaces like unassisted birth groups, anti-vax groups and autism “treatment” groups are designed to allow parents to hide medical abuse and neglect, receive support for it, maintain their ignorance and continue torturing their children.

How should we deal with them?

  • Eater of Worlds

    If that bleach feeder is recent, they need to be reported. A whole family was taken away from the parents partially because of MMS feeding (miracle mineral solution, it’s actually bleach, I don’t remember if it’s the same one as this woman is doing).

  • rational thinker

    If i ever meet one of these people that gives an autistic person a bleach enema I am going to be shoving one up their ass.

  • demodocus

    My PPD group is a safe space for us, but this would have Bea and our other moderators stepping in. Safe space is only good if -everybody- is safe, and making you kid have bleach enemas is not at all safe for your child!

    • BeatriceC

      But we define “safe space” more along the lines of what they originally meant. It’s a place where people are free to express the scary thoughts and symptoms that can happen when you have a mental illness. Some of those thoughts would get a person flayed alive in other places. We understand it’s the mental illness talking. That said, while you’re safe to express those thoughts, we have an obligation to help you access the help necessary to recover. And that’s the major difference. While you’re (general you) safe to say “my PPD manifests as rage and I found myself screaming uncontrollably at my toddler and throwing things at my spouse*”, and while we won’t tell you you’re a terrible person for such things, we will also tell you that this behavior can’t continue and help you find therapists, doctors, and parenting classes so you’re able to treat the disease and learn appropriate coping skills. This is the part that’s missing from these other groups, where they just cheer on the dangerous behavior.

      *Random example, not anything specific said by any particular person.

      • demodocus

        You’re much better at explaining. 🙂

  • StephanieJR

    You’re not entitled to your opinion, you’re only entitled to what you can argue for. And if you shut down any criticism, your argument isn’t very strong.

    These FB groups are like encouraging someone to kill themselves, almost cyber bullying in a way.

  • Heidi

    C’mon, this isn’t a safe space! This is a dangerous as hell space. A safe space wouldn’t encourage to go 5 days with a major infection that could kill both you and your baby or let your child suffer whooping cough for *months* or put bleach up your child’s rectum. Just like I wouldn’t say “You do you, Mama!” to a woman who abused her children, I don’t feel any obligation to support women who make really bad decisions regarding pregnancy and birth. Just like I’m not going to support Marsha Blackburn for Senator this year simply because she’s a woman, and I surely didn’t support Diane Black this year for governor. Sure, I support their right to run, but I don’t support their platforms and I’ll be critical of them in regards to their platforms.

  • Madtowngirl

    Honestly, I feel that the concept of “safe spaces” has gone too far. I was first introduced to them in college, and they were designated physical spaces (the room of an RA, a nurse’s office, etc) where LGBTQ+ people could go if they felt their safety was threatened, or if they just needed to talk to someone without judgement. It seems to have turned into a “this place will never introduce concepts or things that conflict with your worldview” thing, and I’m not okay with that.

    I absolutely think that people should be able to feel safe in places, and that there should be places where people can go to express their feelings without judgement. But when it comes to something that threatens your actual safety, such as an anti-vaxx or freebirth group, nope. We don’t keep silent when someone threatens suicide, and I don’t think we should be silenced when medical neglect is encouraged.

    • The idea was that people would be safe from bigotry, not safe from critical thinking. It made sense to expand it from LGBTQ+ people to other marginalized groups that experience discrimination. Safe places for people of color, or for women, where they can talk about the feelings they have dealing with the majority.

      The problem is that the language of such things has been co-opted by people who are not part of a marginalized group, but simply espouse unpopular worldviews, like anti-vaccination, or freebirth or whatever. You don’t get a safe space for your IDEAS. The same people who keep trying to expand the idea of safe spaces to cover their ideas are the kinds of people who insist being LGBTQ+ is a choice, or a fad, or… well… an idea, rather than something intrinsic to a person.

    • Emilie Bishop

      Yeah, I first heard of them in the context of survivors of sexual abuse and assault–places where they could be heard and have time to process and heal. Now even trauma has been twisted to apply to “I’m offended by this idea (birthing in a hospital when in medical distress), therefore it traumatized me and I’m entitled to my ‘safe space’ to ‘process my trauma.'” If these women could even correctly identify their trauma as losing their baby (or coming close, or being in a life-threatening situation themselves) and ask for space to process THAT, I’d label it a safe space, but they’ve gotten the original concept all out of whack.

    • poppet

      Interesting they call it a “safe space” because they don’t even allow “trigger warnings” in that group

  • RudyTooty

    Dr Tuteur – have you ever addressed the “Special Scars” people?

    https://www.facebook.com/specialscars/

    Is there a limit to what they will encourage and enable?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I thought I had but I can’t find it.

      • Krystle Dolbow

        They tried to talk me into a homebirth after a preterm classical csection at 23w1d. They insisted that my doctors were wrong, that a 23 weeker can be birthed Frank breech and they only wanted to cut me. That I actually had birth trauma due to the doctors and not the actual loss of my daughter etc. Thankfully, I was smart enough to break away from that but they were incredibly persuasive and pushed it all while seeming as if they cared.

  • MaineJen

    In the case of anti vax groups and autism ‘treatment’ groups, they should absolutely be reported for medical neglect. Or for outright assault and poisoning, in the case of that horrid bleach protocol.

    Sadly you are right, the unassisted birth groups are more tricky. A woman’s bodily autonomy must be absolute…as irresponsible as they are, they’re still 100% within their rights. But they cannot expect the rest of us to cheer them for it, or to hold back our criticisms.

    • RudyTooty

      Or to not expect others to infiltrate their groups – and to disrupt their echo chambers with some sound medical advice.

  • perse

    Rachel Reed said I was unfit for feminism and midwifery for criticizing the free birth society… she is a senior midwifery lecturer, how scary is that. They are teaching midwifery students that it all has to do with ‘choice’ and we need to respect that ‘choice’

    • Haelmoon

      I teach my students (medical and midwifery) that we have to respect a woman’s right to choose. We don’t have to repsect or support the choices they make. I have no objection to woman chooseing something outside of standard practice, but inwill voice my concerns and objections.

      Its a bit lime free speech. You should be protected in away that allows you to voice your opinion, but your are not protected from others disliking your opinion.

      • poppet

        According to Rachel, it is anti-feminist to voice your concerns and objections. She also said obstetrics in inherently abusive and mothers and babies die BECAUSE OF medical intervention.

        • RudyTooty

          *sigh*
          We are in such a weird state of reality/human history where words don’t mean what they mean.

          Has it always been this way?

          • poppet

            … the irony is there was constant reference to Reed’s blog in the free birth group, the mec post was referenced to the mother Dr. Amy has written about, when she explained there was mec in her waters and it smelt ‘bad’

        • Anna

          Shes so full of shit.

    • Anna

      Rachel Reed should be fired and have her qualifications stripped. She is a dangerous ideologue. She seems to think baby deaths are no biggie and risk factors to be scoffed at. I think she stopped practicing because she knows its just a matter of time before she ended up in front of the coroner. Indeed she lied in defence of Gaye de Manuele saying she barely knew her. You should put in a complaint to the university. Also know twunts like her dont get to define feminism. No woman who chooses freebirth is choosing to kill her baby. She believes it is safe because pieces of crap like RR tell her it is.

      • poppet

        You’re right Anna. I honestly would not want someone so blase about infant death to be my midwife. To think this is how she’s shaping student midwives minds…

        • Anna

          I know a couple of student midwives that have to sit grinding their teeth through lectures about how evil OBs are and how terrible c-sections are. Even what a great midwife the infamous LB is. One complained to the head of department who basically shrugged and said everyone is entitled to their opinion. It scares me that when you rock up to hospital you dont know if you are getting a good midwife who believes in science or some loon who reads Rachels blog and buys her books, and thinks Hannah Dahlens FB is a good source of evidence based info and thinks its her job to protect women from teh evil interventionz. Even the ACM wont delete anti vaxxers from commenting on their FB page -on a post about Catherine Hughes.

          • poppet

            It’s almost enough to make me reconsider the profession. It’s bizarre to me that the student midwives have placement in a hospital, generally end up employed in a hospital… whilst their uni lecturer is passionate about homebirth being the only right way to give birth and is against OBs, hospitals, medical intervention etc.

          • Anna

            The looneys all go into academia because they dont want to contribute to the “abuse of women in the system” (eyeroll) but they also dont want to follow safety guidelines or take responsibility for outcomes. They want to change the system from the inside. In their private echo chambers they spit venom on women that have interventions and call them ignorant while banging on about feminism publically. They want total autonomy so that women dont see a Dr unless they deem it necessary but of course they also want no fault indemnity for when they kill a baby. I do have hope that most students will get through the course and on placement and through experience realise that obstetrics and collaborative care saves lives and doing it all “natural” would result in unacceptable deaths. Some will be scared straight once they see a few births go to shit, especially if they see some homebirth train wrecks. Some remain wilfully ignorant though. There are good ones, there must be. Midwife I saw briefly today won Midwife of the Year at our hozzy. Shes had 3 c-secs herself and mainly works as a CMC in MFM, so shes supporting women with medically complicated pregnancies. Shes wonderful. I know a few midwives that have seem the light too after friends losing babies at homebirths, even a couple that had homebirths themselves but now realise how lucky they were. They became midwives to “change the system” too but once they started learning the real evidence they realised how misinformed they were and now advocate for hospital birth and supporting all women. Dont give up. A student MW friend of mine jokes she should just write “twust birf” at the top of every assessment and get straight HDs.

          • poppet

            Thank you. I’m passionate about womens health. I’m grateful for medicine and science and they don’t belong to men. I cannot understand the demonization of medical intervention. The founder of FBS Emilee stated that mothers that have c-secs “don’t give birth, they experience extraction” I was astounded by that… how they refer to women and their birth stories, speaks volumes about the FBS “movement”

          • Anj Fabian

            No True Scotsman fallacy.

            My emergency extraction, NICU baby is in the kitchen making drop biscuits for breakfast. You know, when we hold our babies in our arms and think about who they will be when they grow up, we rarely get it right. “Makes drop biscuits on a school morning.” was never on my list.

          • demodocus

            Early bird or simply that into drop biscuits?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The founder of FBS Emilee stated that mothers that have c-secs “don’t give birth, they experience extraction”

            Let’s grant for a second that it is true. And? What’s the problem with having an “extraction”?

            In the end, the goal is to have a baby. Both processes result in having a baby. Hell, adopting a baby also constitutes “having a baby.” Before, they did not have a baby. Now, they do.

            Isn’t that what this is about?

            How many women have said they’d be delighted if they could have the baby via a Star Trek transporter?

          • poppet

            Unfortunately the goal is not always to have a baby. I seen countless women in that group talking about how they don’t really want another child, they just want to give birth, again and again if they could. Dr. Amy is right, it’s nothing more than a performance piece.

          • Mel

            I believe you – but that’s a really messed up way to live.

            There are scads of physically grueling, dangerous if you must options for people to push through without bringing a child into the world.

            Marathoning! Triathlons! Ultramarathons! Distance swimming! Scary open water distance swimming – like swimming the length of Lake Superior within two weeks of the ice melt, double bragging points for not having a lead boat – but you’ll probably die. Reenact any historical journey that ended horribly – but with less equipment!

          • Merrie

            Wow. Mindboggling. Pregnancy and birth were a means to get the baby for me. Not something I enjoyed for its own sake. There was some mild “Wow, it’s cool that my body can do this” but mostly it was an uncomfortable slog. I know some women who genuinely like being pregnant but don’t want to raise more kids parlay it into a stint as a surrogate, though that probably wouldn’t work for these people as the intended parents wouldn’t want the surrogate taking ridiculous birth risks.

          • Stormbird

            I suspect some of the looneys have also done their dash in hospitals due to their rabid one track minds, no one would employ them and they know it. Next year ANMAC will be reviewing the education standards for midwifery in Australia. There will be public consultation. This is the perfect opportunity to have the regulator know what is going on. I’ve heard rumours there will be a push to increase the focus on midwifery models of care in basic education for midwives from some sectors. I worry for the profession and for the women who access care from people who are indoctrinated into the bullshit.

    • seenthelight

      It’s false choice in many cases, too. Had I fully understood the risk I was walking into having a 5d postdate baby whose sonogram had predicted ten pounds birth weight at a freestanding birth center, and with a family of precipitous labors, I like to believe that i would have run my happy butt to the hospital in a jiffy. Fortunately we came out okay after a few hiccups, but the risk was not worth it in retrospect. the midwives would never have told me the cold hard risks because they would have lost that big insurance claim when I ran to the eeeevil hospital, so they were happy to employ subterfuge. Like the sono. They said…well, sonos this late can be off by up to two pounds, so it could be eight pounds. I said okay, sure and it never occurred to me until finding all this years later that it could also be two pounds in the other direction, so up to twelve. Fortunately, she was born under the eight pound mark, but that’s no excuse for my blind trust of these things they’d say.

    • Stormbird

      Disgraceful. Unfortunately there are a few aussie universities with midwifery programs that are similar. Indoctrination is a word that frequently comes to mind. They bang on about woman centred care when it is really about promoting the profession. There is so much focus on the relationships with women in some programs that they are producing people who have deficits in important areas of basic practice.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    That poor 7 yo child.

    My son is 8. To imagine what this little girl is going through is heartbreaking.

  • maidmarian555

    I’ve seen the screenshots from that group, who absolutely indulged in cheerleading whilst that mother posted multiple alarming updates about how the birth was going. That echo chamber is partly responsible for what happened to that child. I believe that people should have the right to say what they like but I don’t believe that they should also have freedom from the responsibility of the consequences of their words. Maybe if there were real-world repercussions for people who encourage strangers to take insane risks with the lives of both themselves and their children, we would have fewer of these dangerous groups. I honestly don’t think that would be a bad thing.

    ETA: I mean the freebirthing mother who let her baby die before seeking medical help. Although I think this should apply to other groups that actively encourage this recklessness and, indeed, have rules prohibiting members from suggesting crazy things like seeking proper medical help in an emergency.

  • Montserrat Blanco

    Our children are not our possessions. Ours is the duty to take care of them, look after them and the joy of loving them most than our own lives. So I agree that yes, children should be protected from abuse and harm. Those forums in fact protect people that harm children. I think that is far more damaging than showing a female nipple, so, if FB does close accounts for showing a female nipple, why it does not delete those groups? Because prudishness is more important than protecting children’s lives. It says a lot about our society.

  • There needs to be a safe space for children, who are completely defenceless, from this sort of homocidal “mothering”.