Melissa Cheyney, have you no shame?

Melissa Cheyney is at it again. This time she brings her special brand of hypocrisy and mendacity to a guest piece for the Oregon Register-Guard, with the jaw dropping title of Oregon has some of the strictest guidelines on midwifery.

Why is it jaw dropping? Because Oregon does NOT require that midwives be licensed!

Cheyney and her colleague Colleen Forbes do have nerve:

We are writing to correct several erroneous claims put forth in these pages in the course of a recent debate over the qualifications of midwives and the safety of home birth.

First, before midwives may be considered for licensure in Oregon, they must pass the North American Registry of Midwives examination — the national credentialing exam for direct-entry midwives in the United States.

To qualify to sit for this examination, a student midwife must, at a minimum: demonstrate competency in all of the core clinical skills identified by the Midwives Alliance of North America; attend 20 births as an assistant; attend an additional 20 births as a supervised primary attendant …

Oregon actually has some of the most stringent guidelines for licensing in the United States.

Cheyney claims that the licensing standards for direct entry midwives in Oregon are rigorous. Incredibly, what she fails to mention is that licensing is NOT required to practice as a midwife in Oregon!

According to the Oregon statutes:

687.415 … Nothing in [Oregon Statutes] is intended to require a direct entry midwife to become licensed …

So far from having strict guidelines for the practice of direct entry midwifery, Oregon has the most lax guidelines in the US. Oops!

Next Cheyney and Forbes take on a claim that has been gaining traction:

[W]e want to address claims about the existence of a database on birth outcomes for licensed midwives in Oregon. Over the past two years, the Board of Direct-entry Midwifery has worked to institute new administrative rules that would make the reporting of all birth outcomes mandatory for licensed midwives. These new rules went into effect July 1, meaning that a comprehensive, nonvoluntary data set on the outcomes of home and birth center births attended by licensed midwives will be available as soon as enough data accumulates to create a valid sample for analysis.

They neglect to mention is that in her role on the Board of Direct Entry midwifery, Cheyney has vigorously opposed releasing the data that ALREADY exists. MANA (the Midwives Alliance of North America), the organization that represents direct entry midwives, has collected outcomes on more than 23,000 midwife attended planned homebirths across the US.

Who is in charge of that database? None other than Melissa Cheyney herself, in her OTHER role as Director of Research for MANA. Cheyney refused to release the data to the state of Oregon. Oops!

Why won’t Cheyney release the data? As I have written before:

The minutes of the August 5, 2010 Board meeting available on the DOR website) reports that the state of Oregon asked for the ability to retrieve information on Oregon midwives from the database.

Cheyney stated that the MANA board’s official policy is to give state-level accounts to professional organizations as a tool to evaluate areas where more training might be needed for the purpose of self regulation, and to not provide the data to regulatory entities.

In other words, the database is only to be used by MANA itself, and not shared with anyone who could potentially identify unqualified midwives and discipline them. How does MANA justify hiding that information from the very agencies (such as the one on which she serves) who are charged with protecting the public from unqualified or dangerous providers?

Cheyney explained that MANA suspected that, due to some state regulatory boards having very hostile relationships with midwives, the quality and quantity of data submitted might be adversely affected if regulatory authorities were provided access.

Apparently, if homebirth midwives knew that the number of babies who died at their hands would be reported to regulatory authorities, they might refuse to report the number of babies who died at their hands?

So here’s what I want to know:

Melissa Cheyney, have you no shame?

How can you write an article for the newspaper claiming that Oregon has “strict” licensing standards for direct entry midwives when Oregon does not require that direct entry midwives be licensed? Technically it is not a lie, but it is most definitely a brazen attempt to trick the women of Oregon.

How can you write an article for the newspaper claiming that midwives are not refusing to release their death rates and citing future requirements when you have aggressively opposed those requirements, and when you refuse to release the EXISTING statistics that show how very many Oregon babies have died at the hands of direct entry midwives? Technically, what you’ve written is not a lie, but it is most definitely a brazen attempt to trick the women of Oregon.

Most importantly, how can you defend a system that you KNOW (because you have the data) has already led to the death of an appalling number of Oregon babies at the hands of direct entry midwives?

Have you no shame?