Homebirth + cord prolapse = dead baby

Cutting of the Umbilical Cord

One of the biggest lies of the many lies told by homebirth advocates is that unexpected childbirth complications can be managed by immediate transfer to the hospital.

Some can, but the worst emergencies cannot. Why? Because in the case of a serious emergency, the baby is often left without oxygen. Think about it: could you hold your breath until you got from your living room to the closest hospital — even by ambulance? If not, why would you imagine that a baby could do it and survive?

Could you hold your breath from your living room to the closest hospital?

Umbilical cord prolapse is just such an emergency. If the umbilical cord falls out of the uterus into the vagina or even out of the vagina, the blood vessels in the cord constrict in response to the change in temperature, just as they are supposed to do after a baby is born. The baby’s blood supply, and therefore its oxygen, is cut off.

Even if the blood vessels don’t constrict, the cord can get compressed between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis. That’s why in the event of a cord prolapse the attendant is supposed to reach into the vagina and exert upward pressure on the baby’s head to keep it from squeezing the cord. Emergency C-section is needed to save the baby’s life and the attendant must keep her hand in the vagina until the baby is delivered.

In childbirth emergencies, “time is brain.” Brain cells begin to die within 5 minutes of being deprived of oxygen. It almost always take more time to get to a hospital, no matter how close, than it takes to injure a baby’s brain.

The latest homebirth death is a perfect example.

A reader sent me this story:

“I wanted to share with you the horrific experience I had that I know will never leave my heart or my mind.

Working at a big hospital we get a lot of home birth transfers and we always take care of them the same way we would a person who chose to deliver in a hospital.

However recently we got a call from our charge nurse that we were getting a home birth transfer via ambulance with a cord prolapse and to get the OR set up.

When the mom arrived in the hospital she was on hands and knees on the gurney with a student midwife behind her with a hand in her vagina. We moved quickly and got the mother onto the OR tables and many people worked together to get an IV started and get her prepped and ready for surgery.

One of our labor nurses took the place of the student midwife and put her hand on the baby’s head to relieve the pressure and she felt absolutely no pulse from the umbilical cord. She knew sitting under that drape that this baby was already gone.

We got a very sketchy and incomplete history of this mom. We found out the student midwife had told the mother that she was fully dilated, but when the on call doctor checked her she was 8 centimeters.

This mother was over 40 weeks pregnant and had ruptured hours before at home with thick green meconium. Tell my why at that point would you not immediately transfer your patient to the hospital to give her baby the best chance of survival. Instead they did nothing.

We still don’t know what exactly happened at home that day. The midwife stated that she had performed an episiotomy and I guess at that point they realized this baby had a cord prolapse and she shoved her ungloved hand up the woman’s vagina in a panicked state.

We had initially thought we heard the baby’s heartbeat in the 110’s, but that was more likely the pulse of the mother. When we finally got this baby out, which took several minutes due to the position of the baby and the size, she was covered and stained in thick green meconium.

This precious baby was gone before she got to us yet we rushed around frantically trying to get this baby out ASAP to give her the best chance of being resuscitated. The baby scored apgars if 0-0-0. They coded the baby for 15-20 min before calling it.

We at the hospital did not have a fighting chance to save this baby despite all of our best efforts. It’s not fair to blame the hospital staff for causing traumatic birth experiences when they are the homebirth midwives are the ones who screwed up. Where does their accountability lie?

This delivery could have 100% been a successful delivery and saved this woman the pain of burying her child and explaining to her 3 year old why her baby sister she had been excited to meet was gone. As we heard the NICU team frantically trying to get any signs of life from this baby and finally called it, it was heartbreaking for everyone in that room. The on call doctor who inherited this disaster was so distraught that she almost could not finish the case.

This poor mother had delivered her first child in our hospital with a highly skilled ob fairly quickly and uneventfully, so I’m sure she was assured by her LAY midwife and accompanying student that she was low risk and could absolutely deliver in the comfort of her own home. She was most likely told that hospitals only want to strap you down to a bed and deliver how the doctor feels most comfortable. That is not at all the case! She was sold on this romanticized fantasy of channeling her inner goddess and doing what her body was created to do with the prying gloved hands and irritating monitoring.

The fact remains that this perfect baby did not have to die. Had this mother been transferred as soon as she ruptured thick meconium she would have been taking her baby home in her arms instead of making funeral arrangements. The hands off approach is a complete gamble and you have no idea what hand you will be dealt. Tragically this mom learned this the hard way. Homebirth mothers only worry about their experience and what they want and they don’t take the health of their baby in to account when they have these reckless disasters.”

Rest In peace, Baby.

And for those thinking about homebirth, think again.

  • Who?

    This is off-topic somewhat, but there was a discussion below about abortion and how different commenters feel about it.

    Just reading The Guardian and saw this:

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/12/victim-who-bore-abusers-baby-in-a-latrine-jailed-for-20-years-in-el-salvador-imelda-cortez

    I have nothing to add, my words have run away.

    • Azuran

      Nice, so even if you carry your rapists baby to term and give birth to a live baby, they are still going to accuse you.
      And prosecuting her, for accidentally giving birth in a bathroom, is more urgent than prosecuting her abuser, who hasnt yet been charged despite dna evidence.

  • Ozlsn

    This story just made me so sad. I much prefer the NZ story, where the midwife acted as part of a team, did everything right and mother and baby are both well.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11834038

  • Heidi

    It’s interesting this “midwife” performed an episiotomy. Isn’t that what a homebirth is supposed to avoid? Isn’t that what they claim all OB/GYNs do as a default? For the record, I didn’t get an episiostomy with my OB-attended hospital birth and it was never once mentioned (and neither was a C-section. Crazy I know!). I think my experience is pretty common nowadays.

    • kilda

      yes, it does seem surprising. I thought the idea of homebirth was to stay away from those nasty doctors who want to cut you. I think the episiotomy was a sign that they were panicking.

    • RudyTooty

      And who cuts an episiotomy when the presenting part is still sky-high? Which it would have to be if there was a cord prolapse, and if someone had to place a vaginal hand to lift the baby’s presenting part off the cord.

      The episiotomy makes no sense.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I’m thinking there is more to the story than we are being told. In that the midwife fucked up even more than is being said.

        • RudyTooty

          I don’t know how you fuck up more than rushing a labor patient to the hospital for a STAT cesarean with a long-dead baby with no hope of survival. But I agree.

  • swbarnes2

    So did the episiotomy contribute to the cord prolapse? Did the prolapse contribute to the meconium, or was that a side effect of the prolapse as it killed the baby?
    Is an episiotomy a technique that midwives should be doing?

    • sara

      At 8 cm as well?

    • Episiotomy is completely irrelevant in this case.

      • Except maybe to show that they were WAY out of their depth and unwilling to admit it. I can’t imagine any situation where a lay person should be performing even such a simple surgical procedure.

  • Anna

    I recently heard a horrific cord prolapse story. Don’t want to give too much detail as I don’t really have the right to tell this woman’s story but her midwife didn’t turn up, cord prolapsed – woman’s Mum noticed, she called the midwife, midwife told her NOT to call an ambulance, but her Mother did anyway. Baby was resussed for close to 30mins, and they got him back, but he is in a very unfortunate state. He may still die, or will live with a very life limiting brain injury. This was in Australia – so midwife was fully trained, registered and licensed. All the training is useless if they ignore it.

    • RudyTooty

      Cord prolapse is very dangerous, and very frightening.

      And you’re right – what’s the point of training and knowledge if practitioners are going to disregard it? It’s useless.

    • Ozlsn

      I hope they sue. I really, really hope the family sues that midwife. Doesn’t matter if the baby lives or dies, I hope they sue the crap out of them.

      • E.C.

        They’d have to pay out of pocket for a lawyer to sue her. Most midwives don’t have malpractice insurance, so attorneys won’t take the case on contingency. Somehow, even with all their “research”, that’s something homebirth moms don’t realize: if a midwife causes the death of your baby, there’s no recourse and no way for her future patients to learn of your child’s death.

        If a doctor causes your baby to die, you can sue them and your state likely keeps a public database where future patients can see that the doctor was sued.

        • Ozlsn

          Private midwives in Australia are required to hold Professional Indemnity Insurance, which covers them for care up to the birth, and from an hour after birth. (It doesn’t cover the birth itself.) I would be interested to know if an insurer would pay out for a birth that wasn’t even attended by the engaged midwife. I suspect some of the bigger firms would take it.

  • yentavegan

    My heart is breaking for the family who were brainwashed into trusting the midwife. However, when midwives and homebirth advocates say babies die in hospitals too, they mean this baby.

    • BeatriceC

      They also mean my three that didn’t make it, in spite of everybody’s best efforts to keep me pregnant long enough to give them a fighting chance. You can’t compare these situations, yet they do.

    • Anna

      Or they know its not true and are simply lying. If they have studied midwifery they’d have to know that the majority of hospital baby deaths are micro prems and sudden unexpected antepartum stillbirths.

  • Azuran

    For all the talk about ‘birth rape’ in the homebirth narative, i cant really think of anything more humiliating and horrible that could happen during birth than what happened here. That poor woman basically rode an ambulance, probably mostly or completely naked, on her hand and knee, with someone else’s hand in her vagina.
    This whole thing is just horrible.

  • Jessica

    My second son was at -3 when I checked into the hospital for my induction, and my OB was extremely reluctant to break my water because of the risk of cord prolapse. I kept explaining this to my nurse who was grumbling that if he would just break my water the labor would progress very quickly. When I shared this with my OB, his response was, “And it would go even faster if there was a cord prolapse.” He finally did break the water, there was a bit of meconium in the waters, but no cord prolapse. The labor progressed very quickly, and it took me eight minutes to push out the baby. The NICU team was on standby to make sure he didn’t need any assistance – he did not.

    I’d been on continuous monitoring since arriving at the hospital so there was no sign the baby was in distress, so I was told the meconium was not the result of things starting to go south. But I would guess had the poor mother in this story been on continuous monitoring, combined with her lack of progression, she might have wound up with a C-section much earlier in the process and the baby would have been perfectly healthy….and the natural birth whackadoos would have called it an Unnecesarean.

  • RudyTooty

    This is a horribly sad story – and could happen anywhere.

    Everyone considering homebirth – WITH MIDWIVES – needs to understand this possibility. There is no way they can have any sort of informed consent without understanding what the risks are of being far away from medical help when needed.

    • RudyTooty

      What strikes me about these stories is the effect it had everyone working in the hospital:

      “I wanted to share with you the horrific experience I had that I know will never leave my heart or my mind.”

      “This precious baby was gone before she got to us yet we rushed around frantically trying to get this baby out ASAP to give her the best chance of being resuscitated.”

      “The on call doctor who inherited this disaster was so distraught that she almost could not finish the case.”

      No. Shit.

      And the midwives… (this is usually how it goes)… the ones who sold the clients on the ‘personalized, holistic, hand-holding, doting, loving midwifery model of care’ – are the first to deny any accountability by saying: “babies die in the hospital, too” “parents need to own their births” “not all babies are meant to live” “this is why we provide informed consent” “we can’t guarantee good outcomes” etc etc etc

      Their lack of ethics alone should prevent them from providing any patient care to any human beings what-so-ever. The ability to be so callous and uncaring about the loss of life while under their care is jarring.

      I don’t think they truly feel any responsibility – or guilt – at all. The midwives who do feel the weight of that responsibility usually get out. So beware – if your midwife is still practicing after many years – she’s got a dead baby or two in her history of practicing – AND SHE DOESN’T CARE. She will sacrifice your baby, too. She will carry on delivering babies in home settings…. that risk is acceptable to her. It’s horrid.

      The hospital staff were complete strangers who took over this train wreck of a birth – and they CARE – they are hurt by what happened, they are hurt that they couldn’t have helped this family. They are in pain … they don’t ever want this to happen again – to anyone. That’s what ethical providers do. They care. And they don’t carelessly risk their patients’ lives.

      • space_upstairs

        I’m coming to see passionate homebirth supporters as the mirror image of strict Catholics who honestly believe it is better for an inviable fetus to be carried to term and live a miserable couple hours outside the womb so they can be baptized and go to Heaven, rather than be spared the pain of that miserable couple hours at a much earlier stage of development only to suffer the eternal pain of their original-sin-stained souls being condemned to Limbo. The homebirth supporters seem to believe that a stillbirth is a better fate than a life potentially compromised by mainstream interventions, since they believe these interventions might have made these children’s lives a hell-on-earth not worth living anyway, plagued by any and every modern ailment under the Sun. As for the possibility of the would-be mother’s death, the extremist Catholic would argue that if she asked for her child to be aborted she would be condemned to Hell forever, and the extremist homebirther would argue that the rest of the hospital-birth mother’s life would be a living hell thereafter for having been tainted by the impurity of modern medicine and knowing her child was as well.

        This is all assuming, of course, that their beliefs are sincere and not merely faked to maintain their clientele, but it’s hard to imagine most people continuing to sell something so brutal if they don’t buy it themselves.

        • Griffin

          This is really insightful. I would never have considered this parallel. Yes, fanatisicm, and the utter inability to see people as thinking and feeling beings, drives both camps.

        • RudyTooty

          I think there is something to the religious (and magical) adherence to it.

          The benefits to both practices – are largely imaginary.

          It’s fascinating how imaginations can lead people to confidently make foolish and devastating decisions.

          I think the risk of a newborn death during a home birth is a more acceptable idea – when it’s just an idea – a risk assessment 1/200 or something – than when it’s a reality.

          That’s when the concept becomes real.

          MIDWIVES should effing know better.

          • space_upstairs

            If anything could change these people’s minds, it would be seeing the real suffering and death live and in-person and questioning whether the imagined alternative (limbo or hell or the dreaded plagues of modernity) really would have been worse. But if even that cannot change their minds…I kind of feel bad for them, living in such dire dread of theoretical eternal punishments or the real but for most of us livable suffering of modern life’s unsolved problems.

          • RudyTooty

            If anything *could* – but midwives witness and foster the deaths of newborns under their care, and they don’t change their minds.

            They just carry on delivering babies – and some of them die.

            So I don’t know that anything *could* change midwives’ minds. It is an acceptable risk to them – their clients losing a baby under their care. That is completely acceptable.

            Freebirth advocates are merely an extension of this birth philosophy. With even less oversight.

          • space_upstairs

            These midwives, then, are akin to BeatriceC’s priest who would rather have sent her straight to purgatory so as not to risk hell than tried to save both her and her micropreemie.

        • BeatriceC

          When my youngest was born at 24 weeks I was told by a priest that if he died it would be my fault and I would be looked at no differently than a woman who chose abortion, and my soul would be damned. I should have instead chosen to “let nature take it’s course” in order to “protect my soul”. Because a crash section to save my actual life as pre-eclampsia was quickly progressing into full blown eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, and I was literally minutes away from death myself, is somehow the more moral choice.

          It’s a rather eye-opening insight into how the Catholic church feels about women.

          • Desiree Scorcia

            Ugh, I’m so sorry some jerk priest said that to you! Please ignore it. He’d be so quick to protect a child molester, and that’s all you really need to know to remember that his opinion is less than worthless.

          • Madtowngirl

            As a person raised Catholic who still connects with the church from time to time: fuck that priest. That’s so against the teachings of Jesus and so not even pro-life, he should be stripped of his priesthood.

            And yes, the Catholic Church sucks as a whole regarding women.

          • RudyTooty

            Catholic-owned hospitals suck even more.
            Hospital policies dictated by the church prohibit physicians from taking the best actions for patients.

            Yep.

          • Madtowngirl

            Sadly, I am all too aware, as I delivered at a Catholic (And BFHI) hospital. I’m delivering there again, too. Thankfully, my OB/GYN was able to get me a tubal ligation scheduled, but the hoops she has to jump through are ludicrous.

          • LaMont

            Christians being “pro-life” never made any sense to me –
            going to Heaven is MUCH better than living on earth, so why would anyone
            ever do anything to prolong life?

          • Madtowngirl

            It’s definitely a philosophy that has been abused and bastardized, to the point where it doesn’t make sense to non-Christians.

          • space_upstairs

            Old-school Christians tend to believe that Heaven is not possible unless one is a baptized Christian. Therefore, they want to prolong life at least until someone can be baptized. After that, though, all bets are off. And as many “Religious Right” policy proposals suggest, they care relatively little about the quality of the earthly life beyond its providing the opportunity for someone to become a Christian.

          • Cristina

            I ended a few friendships because of pro-life arguments (even though I was raised in the same church as them and we had been friends since childhood). Their theory was everyone deserved to be born, regardless of the effect it would have on the woman, the conditions of how she became pregnant, or for how long the baby would be alive (in the case of severe deformities).

            I’ve also heard a *theory* about pro-lifers that saving a fetus is important simply because there is a 50% chance that the fetus could be a boy

          • BeatriceC

            He explained that the only moral thing to do, in the case of a baby with that low of a chance of survival, would have been to transfer me to the OR and actually let me die, then the moment I died, deliver the baby and try to save him. This is part of the reason I am no longer Catholic, or even Christian.

            Also, I cannot state how grateful I am that I was at the hospital I was at, and not the Catholic hospital 10 or so minutes away. I probably wouldn’t be here typing this if I were.

          • space_upstairs

            So, safer to risk losing the micropreemie to limbo than the mother to hell…wow. I don’t think anyone less hyper-religious would agree.

          • BeatriceC

            Well, more moral, anyway.

            And honestly, I have a feeling that this is not the official position of the church as a whole, but that of a fundamentalist priest. My parents are definitely fundamentalist Catholics, so it stands to reason that their priest would be off the deep end as well.

          • Mel

            It’s not the official position – but the fact that an official in the Catholic Church was unaware of how horrifyingly off-base his position was is completely unacceptable to me.

            Taking cheap pot-shots at a critically ill woman and her family is not the act of a person who stands as the literal image of Christ.

            Doubly so since that dumb-shit’s idea would have ended up with two dead bodies rather than a living BeatriceC and YK.

          • BeatriceC

            Yeah, I was pretty sure, even in my haze at the time, that this was not a Vatican approved position. But even though this was the most extreme version I heard, I heard shades of this “logic” from members of my parents’ church in mine and other women’s situations with complicated pregnancies.

          • space_upstairs

            It’s logically consistent, I suppose, but so brutal in practice, so against the natural instincts we’re so proud of to respond to the suffering of our own in the here and now, that it makes sense that the mainstream Church would reject it. They would lose far too many followers otherwise.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            You need not answer this, of course, but I wonder, did/do your parents affiliate themselves with the SSPX or a similarly out-there group? Because that stuff sounds very familiar from how I grew up, which was around those sorts of people. *shudder*

          • BeatriceC

            They weren’t always this out there. Their transformation into fundamentalism began when I was in elementary school. My father was Southern Baptist and converted to Catholicism when I was 5. My mother always hung onto the pre-Vatican 2 days, but more subtly when I was little. Somehow, when my father converted, they went deep into the rabbit hole of fundamentalism. They do still go to a “regular” Catholic church (or they did when I was still in contact with them), but the priest in that church was also a secret fundamentalist. He went along with saying most of the masses in the vernacular, with English language, Spanish, and Haitian Creole masses every week, but he also had daily and Sunday masses in Latin, and entire almost second church operating in the building that adhered to the older rules.

          • Sarah

            It’s an inaccurate assessment of Catholic theology, but that’s no excuse.

          • LaMont

            I mean, not the 40-50% of Americans who vote in favor of requiring hospitals to let women die?

          • space_upstairs

            Like many naive homebirth advocates, they probably ignore the risk of a mother dying as too small to worry about.

          • mabelcruet

            There’s loads of women in the world, just get another wife….

            Honestly, do they have no understanding? Look at fairy tales-there’s a reason so many fairy tales involve an evil stepmother, its because so many mothers died in childbirth and babies ended up with stepmothers instead.

          • BeatriceC

            The sign I carry at protests where this is a relevant topic says “My heartbeat matters too”. So many people stop me to ask me what that means. Even in pro-choice circles I have to explain. It’s disheartening.

          • Madtowngirl

            That’s absolutely sick, and I’m sorry you had to encounter this piece of shit.

          • Mel

            Uh…. did the priest sleep through his seminary classes? (Not that you know the answer to that one, obviously.)

            His “solution” is at least as morally objectionable to an abortion under Catholic Church teachings and probably more so since he’s creating a situation where the most probable outcome is two deaths rather than a live adult and a possibly viable baby who is just extremely premature rather than extremely premature as well as hypoxic, poisoned by liver/kidney failure and/or bleeding out.

            The Catholic Church’s rules on abortion are quite simple. Actively killing a fetus is wrong – but it is morally licit when a fetus dies as an unavoidable side-effect of treating catastrophic pregnancy or gynecological complication. The classic example is having a hysterectomy during pregnancy to treat uterine cancer. Obv, the fetus will die as a side-effect of the treatment – but the fetal death wasn’t the main purpose of the treatment. That’s the rationale why ectopic pregnancies with a heartbeat in Catholic hospitals are supposed to be treated by removal of the affected fallopian tube rather than removal of the embryo/fetus. Early delivery of a premature infant – even a non-viable one – for the purpose of saving the mother’s life is licit since delivery itself is not being done specifically to kill the baby; the death of the baby is an unavoidable side-effect of the delivery of the placenta to stabilize the mom. None of this is new; it’s been hashed out since surgery allowed things like ectopic pregnancies to be survivable.

            Personally, I find the rationale to be…oh, what’s the right phrase….overly convoluted. I tend to judge the correct moral action in medical emergencies to be the one that produces the least amount of suffering, morbidity and/or mortality. Ectopic pregnancies are best treated by methotrexate or fetal removal if possible; it’s quick and has the best chances of retaining fertility.

            In the case of a non-viable or barely viable infant born alive, the Catholic Church does not require heroic efforts to save or sustain life, either, which the priest is implying in his earlier statement. While parents are allowed to request medical intervention if available and appropriate, it is equally morally acceptable to allow the infant to die as peacefully as possible.

          • LaMont

            The whole fallopian tube removal thing is sick – instead of losing one pregnancy, risk a woman’s overall fertility! Anti-choice, and totally in line with the Bible – fertility problems are a result of divine disfavor, if you’re worthy your womb will open. Disgusting.

          • PeggySue

            What is interesting to me as a former chaplain is that teaching in the Catholic church itself is so variable, or at least so variably understood. This is true at end of life as well as at beginning of life. Some priests and writers absolutely believe, and quote as Church teaching, what the priest told BeatriceC, and others believe, and quote as Church teaching, what you have said. We had a patient in acute hospice care who had a cancer in the brain that was so aggressive that loss of brain function could clearly be seen hour by hour. A clergy person at the parish told the family of the patient that unless the patient received optimized nutrition via tube feeding and IV hydration, the family was guilty of euthanasia. This is in no way what the Ethical and Religious Directives for end-of-life care requires, and did significant emotional damage to loved ones of the patient.

          • Mel

            The only thing I can think of in the situation that you explained is that the priest mangled a clarification that the Catholic Church made after the Terri Schiavo case. In the case of a person who is minimally conscious, the Catholic Church views tube feeding and IV hydration as ordinary care instead of an extraordinary effort that can be turned down.

            But the example you gave is completely and totally different in all ways. The decision around minimal consciousness in patients is for patients who are in a chronic, stable condition where they could theoretically live for years with tube feeding and hydration – not someone who is losing brain function by the hour. In that case, tube feeding and IV hydration is honestly cruel since it will cause negative side-effects that will make dying more uncomfortable for the dying person.

            The difference between these two groups of Catholics are pretty simple in my view. Some people abhor any shades of grey so they simply everything down to black and white bright lines. Abortion is always wrong; euthanasia is always wrong and anything that kind of sounds like either is totally wrong, too. I suspect if you asked the horrible priests from your and BeatriceC’s stories they would also tell you that divorce is always wrong, married couples should have large families, and there’s no historical support for women or married priests. The rest of us recognize that the world is mostly grey with an occasional black and white line.

          • mabelcruet

            Every year we have a service of remembrance for babies who have been miscarried or stillborn. We have a few hospital chaplains-Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and a Baptist minister and a catholic nun. They take it in turns to lead the service. Its supposed to be ecumenical and open to all, and we do a selection of music, songs, prayer and readings. I used to be part of the organising committee and ended up resigning from it for two reasons-the year that the RC priest was leading the service, every single reading came from the Bible-there were no ecumenical readings or poems, nothing secular; all the music was hymns, nothing secular, and the readings chosen were awful, totally inappropriate for babies. The following year when we started planning the next service, I said I’d been in touch with a couple of charities who dealt with miscarriage and baby loss and they had sent me a load of appropriate poems and passages and I thought it would be nice to have something like this rather than being all religious readings as many of the parents that came may not have a faith, or not be Christian. I was told that there was no point, because if the parents didn’t have a faith their baby wouldn’t be going to Heaven and therefore they shouldn’t be coming to a service of remembrance. By the RC priest, and backed up by the sister. Horrible, hateful, inhuman and thoroughly ungodly, the pair of them.

          • swbarnes2

            Yes, but on the other hand, this priest didn’t exactly pick up a “women’s lives matter” vibe from his study of theology. He did seem to have really gone through the whole thing, immersed in it for years, with no challenge to the idea that women nothing but vessels.

          • Mel

            That’s actually my point – he’s mangled some old and basic ethical teachings in the Catholic Church so badly that I’m not sure he was paying attention.

            And – depending on his age – there might not have been much about anything involving the lives of the laity. Women may have been viewed as baby-growing machines – but their husbands were the sex-crazed losers who weren’t dedicated enough to be priests. Prior to Vatican II, there was a huge level of entitlement taught and reinforced in the priesthood towards the rest of us peons.

            The Catholic Church is less than 60 years out from Vatican II and the idea that lay Catholics have the right to make choices in their lives rather than be dictated to by the parish priest as the voice of God is slowly working its way into the priesthood. But I’m willing to bet that not all priests are willing to get with the program; the power of telling people what to do is seductive.

          • His “solution” is right in line with Catholic theology in general, at least as I understand it. The RCC actively sanctifies women who die in childbirth of risky pregnancies or even to rape- wasn’t there some girl who became a saint because she convinced her rapist to murder her instead of rape her? The RCC also was behind a hospital keeping a braindead pregnant woman on life support against the wishes of her family to try to save a fetus in spite of the fact that it was impossible this could work. The hospital then charged her family after she died for all the extra time on life support, though they backed up that decision after public outcry.

            This is also why the RCC exommunicated a nun who gave the okay at an Arizona hospital for an abortion of twins. See, the mom had serious heart problems and would have died if she tried to carry the pregnancy. But because the nun prioritized saving one life over letting all three die needlessly, she lost her vocation and her job. The RCC, in actual practice, is incredibly immoral in all things related to women and childbirth.

          • kilda

            so risking the death of the baby = murder most foul, and standing by and doing nothing to save you while you die = the moral course of action.

            Well, THAT makes no freaking sense.

            On another note, I’m pretty sure that limbo is no longer a Catholic doctrine. Which actually makes this whole thing even stupider, if the baby’s going to go to heaven anyway.

          • MaineJen

            Yeah, tells you a lot about the Catholic Church’s valuation of women, doesn’t it?

          • swbarnes2

            I had a television with failing capacitors. Once one capacitor failed, it put more strain on the others, making it more likely for them to fail, rendering the TV inoperable. I did not stop watching TV to preserve the functioning of my appliance, I watched it till the capacitors blew, and the TV would not turn on.

            This priest simply thinks that women are the moral equivalents of appliances.

          • LaMont

            Oh once abortion is banned we will 100% see premature birth tried as attempted murder. And the Church will be all the way behind that, except for their faithful, of course.

          • BeatriceC

            I’m having a hard time upvoting this. There are already cases of early miscarriage being tried as crimes in states with draconian restrictions on abortions. This isn’t a very far leap.

          • LaMont

            I don’t like harping on these possibilities but we have to keep eyes on the ball here. It is scary times.

          • Heidi

            I have a hard time understanding the anti-abortion, pro-life position. I know we have some pro-life readers here, and I know some of them would like abortion rights to be taken away, at least to some extent. But I just really don’t understand it from a logical point of view. Illegalizing abortions doesn’t reduce abortions, and legalizing abortions reduces abortion. I think any pro-lifer should be pro-choice. I guess I value results over principles so this is hard for me to understand. I also don’t happen to think forcing women to carry on with unwanted pregnancies is a good idea if you care about children but that’s another story.

          • At the risk of making myself deeply unpopular, I start from the position that even an embryo is a human being with its own life and future (if implanted), although it is dependent on its mother for survival. Decisions then must proceed from the consideration that ending a pregnancy is ending a human life. From that standpoint, I would not totally ban abortion, but would restrict its use to severe health issues. I certainly support the widespread availability of effective birth control methods as an excellent way to reduce abortion.

            But when I come onto sites like this, I’m listening to people who are worried about scared teenage girls in lousy life situations and who think it entirely immoral to force them to undergo pregnancy and delivery. I’m listening to people discuss issues of autonomy and reduction of harm.

            You may think my views extremely repugnant, and–well–I think abortion without a serious medical reason repugnant, too, and I don’t want it to be allowed. I don’t argue the point on here because I don’t think my views are compatible enough with yours to have a productive argument.

            I cannot speak for all prolifers. Many have differing views from mine, since pro-life and pro-choice really describe a spectrum rather than a binary set of positions. All I can say is that I may be wrong, but hold the views I do because I feel I cannot do otherwise.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            I have one question. How do you feel about ending pregnancies resulting from rape?

          • Awful. I can’t imagine what that must be like. I’d cheerfully support getting the victim Plan B when possible, but–not abortion. And the victim should receive whatever help she needs–financial, medical, psychological.

          • Sarah

            Except if the help the victim needs is to not be forced to carry her rapist’s baby to term, presumably?

          • MaineJen

            The idea of carrying your rapist’s baby is SO SO horrific. No one should have to do that. That’s awful. No abortion, even in that case???

          • How could I think otherwise? It is horrific.

          • Sarah

            Horrific enough for you to think she shouldn’t be forced to do it?

          • She shouldn’t, which is one of the many reasons rape is so awful. But once the kid’s there, I don’t think it should be killed.

          • MaineJen

            A 10 year old girl is raped and becomes pregnant.

            She absolutely positively needs to carry that baby??

          • Is it endangering her life, as a pregnancy at that age might very well do? Then no, not necessarily.

          • Who?

            But why privilege one child (the unborn) over the other (the brutalised 10 year old)?

            And (in any scenario) why ‘blame’ the foetus for endangering the mother, and then punish it by killing it? The carve out for ‘life of the mother’ has always felt like a cop-out to me.

            I understand your dilemma here, but absent the visceral desire to protect the ‘weaker’ one, the position you take seems to me to be indefensible. I’d happily run an argument that the brutalised 10 year old is the weaker one in this scenario in an environment when a living but non viable foetus gets the assumption of a free pass.

          • What is as weighty and valuable as a life? Well, another life is the obvious answer. And if two people are in a situation where one’s survival may endanger the other, then really the only person who has the ultimate say is the other person concerned. So a mother needs chemo for a better chance at survival–it can only be up to her, if she’s conscious and competent, how to proceed after informed consent. The fetus simply can’t make that decision.

          • Who?

            Capacity is really the issue in the 10 year old rape victim scenario. Can any 10 year old have capacity to make a decision like this? Has she not had enough violation already without the me’s of the world telling her it is appropriate for her to value her future and to have a termination, and the you’s of the world telling her that she is responsible for another life, and needs to really be sure she wants to end that life.

            Let’s just hope the rapist is somewhere having a miserable time.

          • Every pregnancy is life-threatening, though. And we don’t always know ahead of time which ones will lead to maternal deaths. So any fetal survival will always endanger the mother’s survival.

            That doesn’t even take into consideration that pregnancy permanently maims a full 25% of women who undergo it; we’re not just talking death here. Do you really think that it’s okay for someone to be pretty likely maimed and maybe die that someone else might live?

          • Who?

            This is so true. Whenever someone tells me how dangerous the contraceptive pill is, I always remind them it is way less risky than being pregnant.

            Years ago when I went on to Yaz (which managed my pre-menstrual dysphoria better than anything had ever done) the doctor told me that the increased risk of taking it was about the same as driving for three extra hours a year. Not much in the scheme of things, particularly because I’m sure I was a better driver on it.

          • Knowing the various risks of pregnancy, I’d say yes, most of the time.

          • But why do you get to make that determination for other people? Why do you get to point at a 15-year-old, a 47-year-old, a woman who was raped, a woman who is on the verge of homelessness, a law student who can’t do both, a woman who just hates being pregnant and never wants to be a mom … why do you get to put YOUR risk assessment over THEIRS when it is their life and sexual health that is at risk? We don’t force people who are terrified of flying to fly, even though it’s waaay safer than driving, just because their risk assessment is off. Do you know how many lives we would save every year if we banned long-distance driving? It’s a lot.

            And this is the US, an advanced country we’re talking about. Does your thought on the laws change when the maternal mortality rate is closer to 1 in 100? Do you think that laws on abortion should get more strict as medical care improves, as though a gross violation of bodily autonomy is less-bad when we can save your life from deadly complications?

          • Because sometimes it is right to override a person’s wishes when said wishes are to actively end another life. Some killing is self-defense; some is manslaughter; some is murder. The distinctions can get awfully murky, and I do not doubt that injustice is done in improperly categorizing such killing, but that is no reason to do away with such distinctions.

          • Sarah

            Yeah, it’s just women’s bodily autonomy at stake after all. No biggie. Best to uphold other people’s moral convictions about bodies that aren’t their own instead.

          • Bodily autonomy is a huge issue. So is protecting life.

          • Who?

            For many months, the unborn child has no life without the fiat of the mother.

            If ‘protecting (baby’s) life’ is the top-level criteria, should a pregnant woman be sanctioned for not submitting to antenatal care, which care would enhance the prospects of the pregnancy being maintained and the baby being successfully delivered?

            Should she be banned from being in a car, as driving is the single most dangerous thing we all do on a daily basis?

            Should she be banned from smoking and consuming alcohol, and punished if she is found to have done so, since both are known to damage pregnancies and children?

            Should there be extra sanctions for pregnant women using illicit drugs?

            If in the opinion of medical specialists the baby should be delivered by cs, for its protection, should the mother be detained if necessary and forced to undergo that procedure?

            I find all of the above entirely repugnant. I don’t much like slippery slopes arguments either, but it’s sometimes instructive to do the thought experiment.

            My own view is that a woman should be able to have a termination at any time, and under any circumstances she wants to.

            Equally, she should be free to sign up with JMH and her merry band of loonies for a TM Nacheral Birth with complimentary orgasm, provided the actual risks of that are spelt out.

            I don’t see how this works any other way.

          • space_upstairs

            If I were health-reasons-only, I would say no to 1 and 2 since you can drive or not go to the doctor with a born baby, maybe to 3 and 4 (under “contributing to the delincuency of a minor” or some such) and probably to 5 (comparable to cases of refusing chemo for children with cancer). It still could put a lot of extra poor women, many already mothers trying their best, in jail.

          • Who?

            I think the rubber hits the road the moment you get to ‘extra sanctions’ for pregnant women for illicit drug use, and of course forced cs.

            There are forces at work in the US that would quite happily curb all kinds of behaviour for pregnant women to protect the ‘baby’, though probably not going so far as to say no guns in the house where someone is pregnant. Which is a head-scratcher, but there we are.

          • space_upstairs

            Yeah, the same kinds of forces behind the BFHI and people calling the cops on mothers whose kids tantrum in public. Basically the notion that a (future) mother should have practically no life outside her (future) child, or else that (future) child will be irreparably screwed up. Which is the very attitude I came here to make sure I could adequately vaccinate myself against before my daughter comes along in a little less than 2 months.

          • Who?

            Good luck with the baby-what an exciting time for you. It’s hard being an expat with a baby-I’ve done it twice-but you’ll figure it out.

            Be kind to yourself.

          • space_upstairs

            Thanks. I have a green card equivalent in my host country, a great husband with a great family, and money for decent daycare, so the only downside is not having my own family around. But some of them plan to come visit the new baby.

          • space_upstairs

            But why use human DNA to draw the line, when many animals are as conscious as some embryos and fetuses and much more independent than a fetus? Should all animal shelters be no-kill, making animal euthanasia health-reasons-only? Should eating animal flesh (except maybe brainless animals like clams and sea urchins) be banned? I suppose the embryo has the potential for more…but the lack of independence from the host, in my opinion, makes for a good reason not to grant it the same rights as a born baby. I think of animal ethics as the best model…and I do not oppose meat eating or shelters that euthanize. So by the same logic I cannot oppose elective abortion, but can understand why someone would (especially if they are vegetarian and against euthanasia of stray pets).

          • Who?

            This is an interesting perspective, thankyou.

            Can I say that I really can’t get my head around the thinking that supports the death penalty but would ban abortion.

            I am against the death penalty-because the system isn’t perfect, and mistakes are made. Also because how on earth do you decide that person A deserves to be executed, but person B doesn’t? Is it about the qualities of whatever they did and whoever they did it to? Or something else?

          • space_upstairs

            I think pro-death-penalty, anti-abortion people would call upon the notion of innocence and guilt to draw that line. The embryo committed no “crime” apart from implanting itself in a womb and thus taking over another’s body, which it had to do to survive: self-defense. Since it cannot be vindictive, it cannot deserve to die the way a grown person can. But of course, there is that one catch that the person accused of killing vindictively did not do so, in the end, and so you have to weigh whether it is fair to take a few innocent lives in order to deter the guilty. I would say it’s probably not, insofar as life in jail with no parole is an option (and if we can make more spots and money for prison for those who really deserve to be in jail by decriminalizing more minor things like drug offenses).

          • Who?

            I understand those arguments, I just find them moronic.

            A more interesting argument I think is that there needs to be some kind of ‘unspeakable’ punishment, which is in practice never actually used. The issue with that though is that deterrence isn’t really as big a driver as some seem to wish it was; even if it was, we know that a threat that is never made good soon ceases to be a threat.

            And one dead innocent accused (or an accused who was a child, or mentally ill when they committed the crime) is a crime in itself, not to mention a stain on the justice system, which should always have clean hands.

          • Sarah

            But not the life of the woman who automatically risks hers through pregnancy and birth, though. No protection for hers!

          • But abortion is only and ever self-defense. Someone is invading your body, you don’t want them there, you drive them out. Technically the abortion doesn’t even kill, it merely ejects. The consequence of the abortion is death of the fetus, and this is a known consequence, but it’s still not murder. I have every right to eject a person from my home into the freezing cold night if they are not a lawful resident or tenant, and if they die the law holds me innocent. Why would the law hold me guilty for ejecting them from my very body?

            Keep in mind, you’re talking laws now, not ethics. Legally, abortion can never be murder because it doesn’t kill. It can be a crime on par with murder and punished as such, but it will never be murder. The law also explicitly allows a person to kill another when there is a gross invasion of property or bodily autonomy occurring; do you think we should remove these defenses in law? If not, why do you think they do not apply to abortion? Why do you think it is acceptable to kill a person invading my house (castle laws) but not one invading my body? Do you think killing a rapist is also murder?

            You mention overriding wishes. The wish of an abortion is not to kill a fetus. The wish is to end the pregnancy. The focus needs to remain on the woman, the living, breathing, thinking, dreaming, actualized individual. The focus is not and cannot be a ball of cells smaller than the period at the end of this sentence with absolutely no ability to suffer or think. Or, if you truly think the fetus is more important than the woman (which is what your stance is- you must pick one or the other, and you have picked fetus), how do you feel about organ donation from beating heart cadavers? They have a heartbeat. They have more brain activity than a fetus before 28-32 weeks development. Do you find it to be murder to sedate them, cut them open, and remove their organs to save other lives? I don’t, because they aren’t people anymore. They’re dead, and we’ve kept their bodies alive with machines, and disconnecting the machines isn’t murder. Well, a fetus isn’t developed enough yet to live on its own, and when we disconnect its life support system with an abortion; it’s no more murder than pulling organs from a beating heart cadaver is.

            TL;DR: Abortion is self-defense, we allow killing in defense of property so we should allow it for bodily invasion, and abortion doesn’t in itself kill but just disconnect a fetus from a sentient life-support system that gets to make her own decisions goddammit!

          • MaineJen

            A building is on fire. In one locked room is a trapped, terrified 10 year old child, begging you to save her. In another locked room is a freezer full of 100 frozen embryos.

            Who do you save?

            Easy, right?

            You always prioritize the living, breathing person over the potential life. Always.

          • space_upstairs

            But I think Heidi_storage said earlier that she only considers *implanted* embryos nearly equivalent to a born human being. And even then, as I understood it, only nearly equivalent, since she does support physical health exceptions (but *only* physical health exceptions – potential mental health issues such as rape don’t count) for a rule against abortion.

          • MaineJen

            See, I think that’s too arbitrary. Even an implanted embryo is only a potential life, since the natural miscarriage rate is something like 20% at that stage.

            An easier solution might be to completely respect a woman’s bodily autonomy, and support her decision on whether or not to continue a pregnancy, especially when it is still in the early stages.

            But I guess that might seem too much like free will. And women can’t possibly have that.

          • space_upstairs

            As I was trying to get at in one of my earlier comments on this thread, I think our society has an especially hard time accepting the notion of women’s free will regarding whether and how to mother in particular. While other strict gender role ideas have fallen by the wayside, even many people who are otherwise quite liberal feel that at motherhood is a “sacred duty” that must be fulfilled in a certain way beginning at some cut-off point – often either the start of a pregnancy or the psychological acceptance of one, although some may draw the line earlier (once the woman marries, perhaps, she is obligated to try for kids) or later (once the kid is about to be born, she must sacrifice everything for its bodily purity and or near perfect psychological comfort).

          • Sarah

            Lord, grant me the ego of someone who thinks they get to decide when other people have to risk their own health because of my ethical convictions.

          • Azuran

            But have you seriously ever seen a real life situation where two adults are being told to decide between themselves which one should die to save the other one? We dont pair off people who need different organ donation and ask them to decide wich one of them is willing to die to donate to the other one and save their life. We will even refuse to do live organ donation if the risk to the donor is too high. We dont require people to die to save lives, even if it results in 2 death.
            By accepting that we terminate a pregnancy to save a womans life, it authomatically means that a foetus is worth less than a born human. And that stays true no matter the risk factor. My baby wanst worth more than my cousin’s baby because i had a perfect low risk pregnancy and she had GD and pre-eclampsia.
            And even then, not being pregnant is safer. Refusing abortion will absolutely result in the death of women.

          • Sarah

            Saying that she shouldn’t have been raped in the first place is essentially meaningless here. Women do get raped, regardless of yours and my opposition to it, and some of them will conceive a viable pregnancy because of it. If you actually think these women should be forced to carry their rapists babies to term, saying how dreadful you think it is whilst continuing to oppose the one mechanism we have to stop it from happening is a rather bad joke.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            Ok, then I respect your feelings about seeing the embryo/fetus as a human life and not wanting it to be killed, even though I’m vehemently pro-choice. I asked because I can’t abide the hypocrisy of people who think abortion is murder, but a little murder is ok—as long as the woman didn’t *choose* to have sex. That POV makes it clear that the person is not so much pro life as pro punishing women for being (in their minds) sluts.

          • kilda

            at the risk of sending us down an off topic rabbit hole, I have to ask – why does it matter if the embryo is implanted? If I understand you correctly, you feel an implanted embryo is a human being but a nonimplanted one isn’t? I’m curious what your reasoning is on that.

          • Ah, sorry to be unclear. No, I think even an unimplanted embryo is human, but it has no chance at a future unless and until it is implanted in the uterus. Personally, I consider such contraceptive methods as copper IUDs problematic, but I could see arguments for it being acceptable. And frankly, a tubal pregnancy isn’t going to make it–better to protect the mother with early treatment than the Catholic Church’s wait-until-the-tube-ruptures preference.

          • Azuran

            That does seem rather arbitrary. There are many steps in a pregnancy, and all those steps come with an increased chance at a future.
            As soon as there is fertilization, there is a chance at a future. Then when the embryo reach the uterus, that chance increase, then it implants, increasing the chance even more. Then organs and brain will develop, further increasing the chance. An implanted embryo who doesn’t develop a brain has a 0% chance of a future.
            Why choose implantation over, for example, fully developed brain?

          • When the embryo or fetus stops having a chance at a future, its mother’s responsibilities to it are ended. If a fetus doesn’t develop a brain, that seems to me a reason for abortion if the mother wishes it. A fertilized egg implanting anywhere but the uterus has, effectively, ceased to be a viable pregnancy–though I am aware of rare cases where an ectopic pregnancy resulted in a live birth.

          • Azuran

            But that still does not explain your arbitrary choice of implantation.
            A fertilized embryo also has a chance at a future. So there is no logic in deciding that there is a difference between before and after implantation.
            If it’s somewhat morally acceptable to prevent implantation (despite the fact that there IS a possibility of life) then why would it be any less morally acceptable to abort until the brain is fully developed. If either of those steps fail, then there is no life.

          • Who?

            Thankyou for raising this issue, and engaging with it.

            My friend’s first and much-wanted pregnancy, in her late 30s, developed without a brain. She and her husband had a late termination (around 20 weeks I think) much to the anger and sadness of her very catholic father in law, who thought that even though there was not going to be enough brain function to draw a breath, the pregnancy should be carried until it came to a ‘natural’ end.

            She went on to have two healthy children in pretty quick succession.

          • AirPlant

            So our views are not actually that dissimilar, I do believe that a fertilized egg/embryo/fetus represents the full potential of a human life, I just do not think that another human life is morally obligated to allow it connect or remain connected to her own body in order to ensure its survival. It is the same as blood donation in my mind, I can donate a significant amount of blood without issue and it will 100% save the life of a sentient human and I believe that donating blood is a good and necessary thing to do in order to preserve human life, but nobody can be compelled to do it against their will.

            It sucks when a termination has to happen and I believe that we are ethically obligated to do everything in our power to prevent the creation of life when we know a termination is the probable outcome, but I do not believe that it is ultimately an unethical decision to end a viable pregnancy.

          • StephanieJR

            I have a bit of a knee jerk reaction to abortion, in that I sometimes do have the thought that it’s ‘killing babies’, but I fully and completely believe that a woman’s right to her own body trumps any of my personal feelings. I will fight for her right to choose what to do with her pregnancy, for whatever reasons (not just ‘good’ ones, like rape or medical issues), and always support anyone that chooses an abortion.

          • Medstudentmom

            I have this same stance. In no other field or situation do we expect another human to take on bodily risk to support the life of another. We had a discussion about abortion at my school and so much of it revolved around “when life begins” but it is not really ethically relevant (I mean, it is certainly emotionally relevant to some) if we have already established we can’t even take blood against someone’s will to save someone else-even their own child’s life. And pregnancy has many many more short and long term risks than donating blood.

            I used to be super pro-life too but I found when challenged those beliefs just weren’t intellectually consistent with my beliefs around medical ethics.

          • MaineJen

            Let’s take it a step further. I work in organ transplantation, including living kidney donation, and the consent process is many many pages, and many months, long. We have to make 100% sure that the person is okay with what we’re doing, and is doing it of their own free will.

            If I was a perfect genetic match for my twin sister, and she needed my kidney to survive, I COULD NOT be forced to donate it if I didn’t want to.

            We cannot even take organs from a DEAD BODY if it is against the prior wishes of said body. Even though said organs would absolutely save the lives of more than one person.

            Read that again. *You cannot co-opt another person’s body against their wishes, even if said person is already dead.*

            Are we really saying that a living, breathing woman has less bodily autonomy than a dead body??

          • space_upstairs

            I think it’s more an idea that once a woman has conceived, she should not prioritize anything above motherhood, because doing so would make her a hell-bound monster whether we believe in a literal hell or not. A woman is not necessarily without bodily autonomy just for being a woman, but once she can be thought of as a mother in any way, she should now live only (or at least primarily) in service to her (prospective) child in a way that no other being, not even the child’s other immediate kin, is expected to do. And so, if someone believes all women should opt to be mothers one day, they effectively believe, under this paradigm, that all women should give up their free will beyond what any man would ever have to do. So…even confined to the specific case of gestation and child-rearing, it’s a sexist double standard…beyond what biology dictates even, insofar as many animal mothers do occasionally neglect to rear offspring in certain circumstances. (Pandas in zoos are kind of famous for it.)

          • Sarah

            There’s a 50% chance the dead body would be male, so yeah obv.

          • Who?

            This is close to my position as well. I’d prefer no one ever again felt the need for an abortion, but if a woman (or child) wants one, for whatever reason, and whenever during the pregnancy, she should be able to have it.

          • maidmarian555

            CW: suicidal thoughts/abortion

            I terminated a pregnancy some years ago. I was very unstable mentally at the time, and also homeless. I remember fantasising, when walking down the road, about throwing myself into traffic. How it would feel to have a truck squash my head and for everything to just….stop.

            If I hadn’t been able to terminate that pregnancy, my two children wouldn’t be here. I probably wouldn’t and I’m not convinced, having now been through pregnancy twice, that I’d have been able to control those urges for nine months so that my (obviously completely messed up) child would have survived either. The mental impact of an unwanted pregnancy is powerful. Sure, it was my fault I got pregnant in the first place. I should have been more careful. I should have said ‘no’. I will have to live with those decisions for the rest of my life.

            But when I look at my kid’s faces? Those children who would not be here now had I made different choices? I know I did the right thing. I’m not making any sort of attempt to change your mind, as it were. But I do want to say that
            those of us who make that choice to terminate a pregnancy do not do so lightly. And mental health issues (imo) are just as relevant as physical ones. I believe that if somebody feels as you do, you are entitled to feel that way. But that those feelings you have about your own body and your own pregnancies should not result in policies that restrict the rights of those of us who do not share your views. It’s not just all about protecting young teenage girls and rape victims. It’s about individual women being able to exercise autonomy over their own bodies. I have to live with my choices. Trust that I can and do. If you’re right and God does exist, I’ll have to answer for them eventually.

          • Here’s my take on it. So a fetus is a person. I disagree, but whatever, for the purpose of this discussion I will grant the point.

            So what? No one has the right to use my body without my consent. If they have sex with me without my permission, that’s rape. If they make me work against my will, that’s slavery. If they inject noxious substances into my blood that make me sick, or take even so much as a drop of blood to ‘donate’ to someone else, that’s felony battery and organ theft and potentially attempted murder. We allow people to fight back against all three, to the point of lethal force (at least in the US). If someone is trying to rape, enslave, or murder you, you get to kill them first. It doesn’t matter that they’re another person- they’re violating your bodily autonomy in extremely egregious and harmful ways, and lethal self-defense is an acceptable response.

            An unwanted pregnancy is just as violating and harmful as rape or slavery or organ theft. The acceptable responses to it also include lethal self-defense, otherwise known as abortion. Again, no one gets to use anyone else’s body without prior and ongoing consent, and that includes a fetus. I treat an unwanted fetus the exact way I would treat any other person invading my body without my consent- with the minimum force required to make it stop. In the case of a fetus, minimum force means it dies. It’s not a good outcome, but it is the best outcome, and one that absolutely must remain legally accessible. Otherwise, what legal or ethical argument do you have against rape or slavery or organ theft?

          • Thanks for your clear and respectful reply. This is why I enjoy the commentary on Skeptical OB, in which only the obnoxious are flamed.

          • StephanieJR

            I regret that I have but one upvote to give. I may very well end up using this argument myself.

          • Feel free! I find that logically, at least, it is one of the most compelling ones I have come across (to myself as well as to others).

          • Azuran

            Indeed. Born humans, including children, die everyday while waiting for a kidney, liver or bone marrow. All organs that can be donated by living people. Yet no one is arguing that live organ donation should be forced, even though it would save lifes.
            So, until all those pro-life people have donated a kidney or part of their liver to save someone elses life, they can suck it.

          • Sarah

            They can still suck it even then. Having exercised their bodily autonomy to willingly risk the complications that can follow from live donation doesn’t mean they get to decide mine is limited. It would be a case of fair play for the donation, but you can fuck right off as I shake your hand for your altruism.

          • Babs

            I agree with you. I stay silent on the subject for the same reason. I simply oppose recreational abortions. Medically necessary procedures are different, but society has really put women in a hard place. Until we have a better safety net, I cannot blame women who chose abortion. And yes, I’m a pro-lifer that votes for more government support.

          • Kq

            RECREATIONAL ABORTIONS?!?

            Oh yeah, that’s totally a thing. It’s top of my list for my time off. Best way to unwind, recrational abortions.

            I can’t even believe someone would say something this idiotic.

          • Who?

            I know, right.

            I guess that’s what women do after they have recreational sex.

          • space_upstairs

            Actually, that’s probably exactly what she meant: but could not articulate properly: not to imply that an abortion is fun, but that it wouldn’t have been necessary had the woman not had inadequately protected sex on purpose without being ready to raise a child. In an ideal world, no embryo wouldbe conceived that nobody was willing to raise as a child…and no cat or dog would be without a good home. Sadly, acting as if those things were true will not make them so.

          • Who?

            Well, to be entirely thorough about it, neither she or her partner took appropriate or adequate precautions.

            But yes, it’s an unfortunate fact that the moment when most care is needed can be the moment where care is forgotten about. Not to mention forgotten or thrown up pills, broken condoms, dodgy diaphrams and the multitude of other ways a pregnancy can foil the best laid plans.

          • space_upstairs

            Indeed, not all cases of inadequately protected deliberate sex are deliberately inadequately protected. Therefore, to be truly against abortion for non-medical, non-rape reasons, you must argue that nobody should have heterosexual intercourse unless the female partner is disposed to gestate any viable conceptus as long as she safely can and at least put it up for adoption, if not raise it herself or convince her parents or the father to do so. And that’s a tall order.

          • Who?

            I do argue that, actually. I argue it particularly strongly to young men who think there is no excuse, ever, for abortion, telling them they should not be having sex unless they are prepared to raise the baby that might ensue.

            In fact, most people in my bit of the world manage to not get pregnant when they don’t want to. Belts and braces is the best approach.

          • space_upstairs

            It is a noble ideal for all straight couples to stick to alternatives or rethink their relationship until they would be ready to take charge of a possible baby. Unfortunately, banning elective abortions will probably not magically make everyone – or even significantly more people than before – live up to it. Even I didn’t fully live up to it: I simply insisted on 2 forms of birth control (which can still fail albeit with low odds) until I felt a baby would not be a disaster, and one very good one (arm implant) until I felt really ready for a baby.

          • Who?

            I’m not in favour of no sex-but think two forms of birth control is entirely reasonable and achievable.

            That said, I also think a woman should be able to have an abortion without having to give a reason and whenever she decides she wants one.

          • Heidi

            I’m not sure why the idea of recreational pregnancies and recreational babies seems like a great idea to her. . .

          • Sarah

            Mmm, we’ve pretty much hit the abortion equivalent of the vaginal exams are like being fingered level of stupid here.

          • Heidi

            I can’t either! I went with someone to get an abortion and it took hours during both visits. There was absolutely nothing recreational about it. It cost quite a bit of money too. Who would pay $1000+ for top notch cramps and heavy bleeding?

          • Heidi

            That is I went with the person getting the abortion. Sitting in the waiting room for hours was horrible enough.

          • Babs

            Yep. Some of you can’t handle those that disagree with you. Did you even read the rest of what I wrote?
            So when my well-off college friends had abortions because they didn’t want stretch marks… that wasn’t recreational? I’m not talking about the medically necessary procedures you all have mentioned. I’m talking about killing babies for silly reasons.

            Step away from the deep end…come on…you can do it.

          • Kq

            Naw, I’m not staying in the shallow end.

            Has it ever even crossed your narrow mind that your friend said they aborted because they didn’t want stretch marks, it might not have been the whole story?

            And if it was, why on Earth would you want someone like that to raise a child?

            I’m perfectly capable of handling disagreement. Clearly, you and your use of words (which mean things – YOU said recreational) can’t.

            Call me when you can handle talking to an adult who’s actually had an abortion. One of those horrible selfish late term abortions. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. They’re not as comfortable as you think.

          • Sarah

            I must admit, if I knew someone like Babs in real life, I’d be claiming to have had all sorts of abortions for the daftest reasons I could think of, just to poke stupid with a stick. I’ve never actually had one at all, but I’m still so tempted to register a sockpuppet account and invent a story about getting a pregnancy terminated at 23 weeks so I could go out drinking.

          • Who?

            Haven’t we talked before about why it is wrong to mock the afflicted?

          • Heidi

            No, that’s not recreational. That is absolutely not the definition of recreational. Recreational would be if one of those multiple rich friends in college told you they got pregnant intentionally so they could get an abortion because they found it enjoyable and they loved spending their free time in the waiting room of an abortion clinic.

          • Sarah

            No, it wasn’t. Glad to have cleared that up for you. You’re confusing recreational with ‘reason I don’t agree with’. Invest in a dictionary.

          • Azuran

            Did u maybe consider that they made that comment either as an off hand bad joke because of stress or to stop further discussion?
            What do u think? That they wanted babies, then got pregnant on purpose but then realized they might have stretch marks so the aborted? Of course not. They aborted because they didnt want kids.
            They just didnt want to seriously discuss it with you.

          • Babs

            Of course I thought of that. But perhaps you all know my friends better than I do?!
            My philosophy is to not badger people IRL. That means I never bugged my friends about that stuff. That’s their stuff. On the other hand, I’d like to point out that some (not everyone here!) of your screaming and yelling at people who generally agree with you is why Trump got elected. I live in a deep red area and they mostly hate Trump. But they love voting for him because it pisses off rich white liberals. I kid you not. The more the left yells about bigots and low information voters the more they go for Trump. Don’t abandon the leftists like me who live in these areas.

            BTW, why do we pile on these unfortunate women who birth at home or freebirth? I mean they’re crazy, but aren’t they birthing recreationally? Let’s be consistent here.

          • space_upstairs

            Someone once told me here, when I questioned the tone of the debates, that the “screaming and yelling” and the like are necessary to draw attention to the issues, because nobody pays attention to a nice, rational, civil debate. Perhaps it’s true to a large extent…and ultimately means that if you want to explore these issues without the fever pitch of a marketing campaign or turf war, you’ll have to look to long-form media like books and newspapers that still do print editions and solicit subscriptions. I do not like the implications for society and the future of politics, that Internet debate is necessarily hysterical and increasingly dominant in public discourse. But there’s only so much I can do. Given the other priorities in my life, like my work and my future daughter, I’m considering major cutbacks on social media and blogs. It might be a good idea as well for anyone else disenchanted with this system.

          • Sarah

            I’m not rich and I live in a poor area, so I gather that means it’s ok for me to correct you when you descend into absolute nonsense. Which really, that recreational comment was. Because dictionary.

          • Who?

            I don’t live in the US so I’ll stay out of the Trump thing, except to say that it’s a shame if people are so disengaged that they are prepared to squander not only their vote, but their future, to piss off a bunch of folks who never did them any harm.

            Pretty sure the homebirth/freebirth crowd would be most offended by the suggestion they birth recreationally. It’s also rude to people with actual mental illnesses to lump homebirth/freebirth advocates in with them. It is, as I’m sure you know, perfectly possible to be both sane and wrong-headed. They are dead serious about their choices.

          • Azuran

            Im not piling on homebirther and free birther. My belief that a woman has full authonomy over her body goes from conception up to birth. So she can have an abortion for whatever reason and she can birth however she wants. Even if it results in the baby’s death like it did in journeys case.
            Our problem isnt with the mother, its with the homebirth community who is lying to these women and telling mothers that are obviously showing signs of complication that everything is fine. Telling them that they should skip prenatal care because its useless and US causes autism.
            If, knowing the risks, you still want to stay home and refuse all testing, that is your right. But your provider, regardless of if its an ob, a nurse, a cnm or a cpm, should have the obligation to provide acurate medical information so you can make an onformed decision. If you provide false information and a baby dies as a result, you should be held responsible.

            When a midwife is BRAGGING about 90% of her client refusing US, GD testing, GBS swab, vaccination and vit k shot, its pretty obvious that she isnt doing her job right. Its pretty doubtfull that these women were actually provided with factual information regarding these risks. The fact that she’s happy about client making does choises is a clear indication that she obviously doesnt know the risks.

          • Azuran

            Also, there a very simple way to find out if your friends really had abortion only because they didnt want stretch marks.
            Have they or are they curently trying to adopt a baby?
            If they didnt, then its pretty obvious they had abortions because they didnt want kids.

          • Heidi

            No, they love voting for him because he was a vote for racism and bigotry and GUNS. I come from the reddest region of the country. They are misinformed (and proud of it) and they do in fact love Trump. No other candidate has been this openly hateful, bigoted and racist. If it was really about wanting to piss off liberals, they would have put Romney or McCain in office.

          • space_upstairs

            I don’t think anyone is technically proud of misinformation as such. The impression I get (exposed to these attitudes through certain people I know) is that they are proud of not trusting the government and the elite establishment, and are convinced that it’s the rest of us who are misinformed. We’re the suckers who believe the mainstream media which are bought and controlled by interests that would destroy the great American society from within and bring about our worst Cold War nightmares. Trying to take away the people’s guns is thought to be part of the process. For racism, I’ve seen two perspectives: either that racism is really factually correct and so anti-racism is just more liberal misinformation, or that political correctness and social justice movements are more racist than any hate group ever was. It’s just like how anti-mainstream-medicine people and anti-mainstream-food people – commonly found on both sides of the political spectrum these days – are convinced that the rest of us are either paid shills or suckers for ads, and have no common sense to realize how much we’re being screwed, because we’re the misinformed ones.

          • MaineJen

            “It’s not the fault of the ignorant racists, it’s YOUR fault for complaining about the ignorant racists.”

            Not buying it.

          • Sarah

            Recreational abortions? Are you on glue?

          • Heidi

            But my actual point is why would you want to ban abortions when the facts show more abortions happen in countries that ban them but as a result more women end up seriously hurt or dead? It seems more logical to me to not get an abortion yourself and work towards reducing abortions through other mean.

          • Doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. But if you seriously think it the ending of a life, as I do, how could you not restrict its legality? I fully support education and contraception provision as means of reducing abortions. I don’t think an investigation should be launched if a woman walks into a hospital with miscarriage complications–waay too much of a minefield.

          • Heidi

            I think abortion ends a life, no doubt. But I don’t think it should be made illegal. I don’t think it’s reasonable or logical for life to be the ultimate determining factor.

          • Sarah

            Not least because we already know that banning abortion doesn’t necessarily save said life either. Other outcomes when women are pregnant with children nobody wants to look after include illegal and dangerous termination methods, and children being born into the world who are more likely to die through neglect and murder. People framing this as a saving a life versus taking a life issue shows they lack awareness of the reality.

          • But if abortion is illegal, it’s only logical to investigate maybe-crimes, and that means women who walk into a hospital with a miscarriage. You can’t have one without the other.

            So you wind up with a choice- do you make abortion illegal and accept all the restrictions and criminal penalties that imposes on women, or do you not make it illegal?

          • Sarah

            Quite. It’s all very well Heidi_storage talking in abstracts about what she personally would want, but we already know what happens when abortion is made illegal.

            And if you want it illegal but also don’t want any investigation of women walking into hospital with miscarriage complications, what you’re basically saying is that you’re ok really with abortion, it just can’t be safe and legal. No medical care or anaesthesia for you during the procedure, ladies.

            Which actually is implied by wanting abortion made illegal anyway, because that’s what always happens when you ban it, women who need one look to other alternatives. But it’s useful to have this spelled out.

          • Who?

            I agree, but am not signed in so can’t upvote.

            Ultimately I respect the right of someone who doesn’t think abortion is moral to not have one. I have zero interest in them having any power to affect anyone else’s abortion though.

            And I hope all the men out there who don’t approve of abortion remember to check (and confirm) what contraception their partner is using and remember that ‘if it’s not on, it’s not on’.

          • Sarah

            I have no doubt that they will. I also still believe in Father Christmas though.

          • Sarah

            I think a lot of them don’t really understand or accept that women will and do still have abortions regardless of whether it’s legal.

            There’s also often a lot of romanticising going on about how couples who can’t have their own children will be willing and able to step in and adopt all the ones who’d otherwise be aborted. I’ve come across people in the UK who were under the impression adoption would solve that problem here. We have about 180,000 abortions a year to UK resident women. While there are a great many people who want to adopt a baby and aren’t able to because there aren’t usually many available (we’re quite different to the US in that regard) there aren’t 180,000 a year.

          • kilda

            I don’t think many prolifers know or believe that banning abortions doesn’t reduce them. They realize that some people will still get abortions illegally but I really don’t think they grasp that the number of abortions will not go down at all. The statistics showing that countries without legal abortion have just as many abortions are eye-opening, and I think not talked about enough.

          • Who?

            I think they just don’t want to be part of a society that condones abortion.

          • Sarah

            Probably, even if it’s at the cost of killing and maiming women due to the unsafe abortions that many will still have, and condemning millions of children to be brought into a world where nobody wants to look after them. Total lack of joined up thinking.

          • MaineJen

            What I don’t understand is people who are against abortion AND birth control. Like…if you want fewer abortions, you should be handing out condoms and the pill like candy. For real.

            Instead….you’re pregnant? You’re by god staying pregnant, no matter what.

            Do they want orphanages? Because this is how you get orphanages.

          • Heidi

            Or worse yet, you have homeless children.

          • Sarah

            And it’s not like we don’t know fine well what happens when there are more children in the world than there are people who are willing and able to look after them. Institutions, abuse by resentful and reluctant caregivers, ways of getting rid of them after they’re born. There’s a theory that witchcraft accusations increase when there’s an increase of children (and others) who need looking after and nobody wants to do it. It shows wilful ignorance of human nature and history to imagine these things are all going to go away. You can address some of it by policies like giving people who would like to look after a child but don’t have the resources the things they need to do it. But not all. You can’t make someone want a child when they don’t.

          • Madtowngirl

            “What I don’t understand is people who are against abortion AND birth control.”

            Simply put, they want to punish women for having sex. Women are for making babies, that’s it. :/

          • MelJoRo

            Completely agree. On a personal level, abortion as birth control bothers me. I would prefer that women are offered free, effective birth control and that society supports pregnant women and mothers so that abortion is not needed/wanted in as many cases. I do not argue that abortion should be illegal though, and do acknowledge that my feelings have no governing over another woman’s body.

          • Mel

            Your priest was an ass. An inexcusably jack-assy ass who has much to answer for – and hopefully will this side of death.

            By comparison, a retired priest from our parish showed up within an hour of my non-Catholic husband calling him to baptize Spawn and apologized for not dressing up. He gave me Anointing of the Sick and said over and over again how glad he was that he was doing an anointing and a baptism rather than planning a funeral for either of us. Heck, he’s the one who remembered to bring a camera and set up a picture of the baptism for us to have.

            It’s like some priests forget that they are supposed to be following Jesus’ example of helping others. Drives me batty.

          • Sarah

            Shame nobody let nature take it’s course right round his fucking face.

          • Ravens Starr

            That’s a hot mess because from what I am aware that isn’t even actual doctrine, actual doctrine is “try to save them both”
            But you know, some priests

        • NoLongerCrunching

          You’re right. I see the same thing with my fellow LCs. They’d rather risk subjecting the baby to agonizing hunger for days (at best) or at worst risking potentially brain-injuring hypoglycemia etc, than taint the baby’s gut with “poison” dooming the rest of their lives. It’s truly a religious zealotry.

    • You would be more accurate if you dropped “midwives” and just wrote “homebirth”, which is dangerous even with a doctor in attendance.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Ok, we hear what the _student_ midwife was doing, but what about the midwife? Did she even come along?

    Wouldn’t surprise me if she never even came along

    • Mel

      Running away to protect her business? Perhaps getting out of dodge to protect her liability? Even in states with no midwife regulation like mine, getting sued, being found liable and declaring bankruptcy gets expensive quickly.

    • AnnaPDE

      Apparently she was the midwife in this situation – she had claimed to be fully qualified.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        So a “student midwife” pretending to be qualified?

        • AnnaPDE

          Oops, misread. That was wrong then.

    • Heidi

      Yes, it was especially troublesome a “midwife” would let a student “midwife” take over in an emergency like this. It’s almost like she realized they were both about equally qualified (and by that I mean not qualified in the least) and was too cowardly to face hospital staff.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Wouldn’t shock me, either.
      Back in my crazy days, I heard about a situation where a midwife never showed up for a primipara home birth. Sent her student quite some time after the frantic parents called. Mom tore horrendously, needed extensive repairs, baby was okay, then mom had such a bad breastfeeding injury that her nipple was half torn off. All this was seen by this woman’s mother-in-law, to whom I was speaking, as vaguely unfortunate but, of course, far better than if mom had given birth in a hospital, and the big concern was that mom might, horrors, give birth in a hospital next time.
      *snarls something profane under her breath*

      • kilda

        wow. Horrendous perineal tears, nipple ripped half off, sounds super empowering and beautiful.

  • Madtowngirl

    What a horrific, completely avoidable tragedy. I don’t understand how these pretend midwives sleep at night. You literally destroyed a family’s life.

    As foolish as I believe it is to give birth at home, this entire story reeks of the mother being sold a lie. And now she has to pay the price of burying her child while these pretend midwives will likely get to keep on playing pretend and selling more mothers more lies. How incredibly awful.

    • Sarah

      Oh, no doubt she was. Reasonable opinion varies as to the level of the mother’s culpability in accepting the lie, but does anyone really think there’s any chance the midwife provided enough accurate information to facilitate informed consent? No chance.

  • demodocus

    god, what a tragedy, and that it was probably preventable is triply so. hugs to the staff for their valiant efforts, to the 3 yo, and even to that deluded mother. This is not the way to get a rebuke.

  • Cartman36

    That is disgusting. As someone who recently gave birth to a healthy baby, I cannot imagine my child being born and not hearing that sweet cry. My heart goes out to the mother, because the author is probably correct that she was sold a lie by this pretend midwife and her student pretend midwife. The mother probably could have had the birth of her dreams in a hospital with a CNM who actually had the knowledge and training to handle an obstetric emergency. Now all she has is a tiny dead baby she has to bury in a tiny coffin.

    Again, this story is disgusting.

  • At least someone thought to try and relieve the pressure on the cord by inserting a hand in the vagina. Not that it was terribly bright to have the woman pushing on a partially dilated cervix, among other things.

    I’m sure there are lay midwives out there who wouldn’t have known even to do that.

    Completely avoidable neonatal death, although, to be fair, I’ve seen some very hairy situations in hospital, when a woman arrives in labor with the cord already prolapsed, or following an amniotomy [artificially ruptured membranes] done inappropriately.

  • Ardent

    Hideous tragedy, I feel so badly for everyone involved with the exception of the midwife. I agree with prior comments that suggest you should keep posting these even if they are depressing and repetitive because it forms a record available to search engines for women curious about homebirth safety. The freshness of these posts matters for search engine results. Thank you for all that you do.

    • Cartman36

      I agree. The stories are heartbreaking but if they stop just ONE woman from choosing a homebirth with an unqualified quack, it is worth it.

  • Zornorph

    Never fails to make me both sad and angry.