More mendacity from MANA

Is there anyone left out there who thinks MANA isn’t hiding its death rates?

If so, it’s not for lack of bone-headed moves on MANA’s part. While vigorously denying they are hiding the number of deaths out of the 24,000 planned homebirths in their database, MANA has made it clear that that is precisely what they are doing.

The obvious thing to do, if they are hiding their death rates and have absolutely no intention of revealing them, would be to keep silent when someone points out that they are hiding the data. Any claim that they are not hiding how many of those 24,000 babies died that does not include disclosure of the number merely serves to call attention to the fact that they are indeed hiding this data and that the death rate is likely to be nothing short of an appalling indictment of homebirth with a certified professional midwife (CPM).

Their disingenuous, mendacious and down right inept responses to my piece on and the subsequent comments are inadvertently providing loads of entertainment. On Wednesday I wrote about the unsigned letter by MANA executives that was published on their website and on

In particular, I pointed out that MANA executives changed their Handbook for Researchers just this month, removing specific requirements I highlighted in my Time piece, while implying in their letter that those requirements had never existed. When this was pointed out in the comments, a MANA executive claimed that it is just an amazing coincidence. Wendy Gordon, CPM, LDM/LM, MPH, (and placenta encapsulation specialist!) Midwives Alliance Division of Research explains:

I have to smile at the suggestion that the Midwives Alliance or any organization could move so swiftly as to make policy changes in response to something someone says in a blog somewhere. These were decisions that were carefully weighed and discussed over several months, culminating in Board member approval. If only decisions could always be made that quickly!

Wow, MANA executives began planning to remove the inappropriate requirements for data access months ago, and it is just an incredible coincidence that release of the new guidelines occurred in the very month that my piece appeared. If only they had coincidentally released the death rates, too!

And if that claim isn’t foolish enough, Ms. Gordon can’t seem to help making another, even more foolish claim:

There has never been a requirement that researchers must swear to use the data for the advancement of midwifery — even the Wayback Machine can confirm that.

Are you sure, Ms. Gordon? I don’t know if the document is in the Wayback Machine, but it is certainly on my hard drive. The MANA bulletin of Summer 2006, explaining how the data will be used, asserts (page 11) that midwives were told prior to submitting data to the study that the data could only be used for the “advancement of midwifery” and that the Director of Research would close the account of any researcher who did not conform and used the data “inappropriately.”


When Gabe Paparella, writing as SomeoneIsWrongOnTheIntenet asked Ms. Gordon point blank for the mortality data, she suddenly remembered, that:

We are preparing this information for publication and look forward to sharing it widely.

Oh, they are preparing it for publication. Really? Then why did the executives of MANA fail to mention that salient point? Why didn’t former President of MANA Geradine Simkins mention that? Why didn’t Ms. Gordon herself mention it at any time before she was asked point blank to reveal how many of those 24,000 babies died. How curious that no one thought to mention this before.

But my favorite comment made by Ms. Gordon is this:

There are no significant differences from previously published data (see Johnson & Daviss, BMJ, 2005).

Now that’s funny! The Johnson and Daviss BMJ 2005 study ACTUALLY shows that homebirth with a CPM in 2000 had nearly triple the death rate of comparable risk hospital birth in 2000. Of course, Johnson and Daviss left that out of the original paper, but have since publicly acknowledged that they never compared homebirth in 2000 with low risk hospital birth in 2000.

Let’s leave all those disingenuous and mendacious comments aside for the moment. The issue under discussion is exquisitely simple:

Is MANA hiding how many babies died at the 24,000 planned homebirths in their database?

According to the MANA executives, they’re not hiding how many babies died, … they just refuse to say.

And that’s not the same as hiding, especially since they just remembered, just yesterday, that they are planning to publish how many babied died … some day … at some point in the future … and they look forward, yes they do, to sharing the number of dead babies with us then, but for now they just can’t reveal how many babies died because … because … well, they can’t think of a reason.

But they know there is a reason, even if they can’t think of it, because if there were no reason then they would be hiding the number of babies who died and they aren’t hiding the number of babies who died…

So how many of those 24,000 babies died at the hands of homebirth midwives?

They’re not hiding the answer; they just won’t tell us.