UK’s leading midwife caught making up “facts”

Oops! Cathy Warwick, the general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, has been caught making up “facts” to support homebirth.

According to the Mail:

… ‘There is a danger that risk during childbirth is presented in a way which is leading women to believe that hospital birth equals a safe birth. It does not.

‘There is no hard and fast guarantee that a woman will have a safer birth in hospital than at home.’

She also said there had been a trend for some doctors to cast birth as a ‘medical problem and not a natural process’.

She proceeded to offer this doozy in support of homebirth:

Mrs Warwick is determined to prove the critics wrong. She pointed to the Netherlands, which has the lowest perinatal mortality levels for babies in Europe.

It is also a country where a third of women have home births. In the UK the figure is just 3 per cent.

Just one problem: The Netherlands has one of the HIGHEST perinatal mortality rates in Europe. As I detailed less than a month ago:

Homebirth and natural childbirth advocates often approvingly cite the maternity care in the Netherlands. Homebirth rates are the highest in the world (30%, but down considerably and falling every year) and midwives are the mainstay of the system, caring for any woman who does not require the care of a doctor.

What homebirth and natural childbirth advocates fail to realize is that The Netherlands has one the highest perinatal death rate in Europe and a high and rising rate of maternal mortality. Indeed, the Dutch have become so alarmed at the perinatal and neonatal death rates that the government has convened a variety of investigations to determine the cause.

The Guardian, which conducted the interview, has already been informed of Ms. Warwick’s error. Their story contains the following notification:

This article was amended on 16 august 2010. The original reported Cathy Warwick as saying that Holland has Europe’s lowest perinatal mortality levels for babies. This has been removed from the article temporarily, pending clarification.

One of my central claims about homebirth advocacy is that it is based on mistruths, half truths and out right lies. Although Ms. Warwick’s claim is flat out false, I’m not sure that it was a lie. That would imply that she had actually bothered to investigate the perinatal mortality rate in the Netherlands before she made her claim. It is more likely that she simply made it up, or passed along information that she had heard from someone else who made it up.

Ms. Warwick was determined to prove critics of homebirth wrong, but instead she proved them right. Homebirth advocacy is based on mistruths, half truths and outright lies.