The hideous racial insensitivity of white homebirth advocates


Nothing says “racial insensitivity” quite like invoking slavery to describe something that you don’t like. I’ve written before about the unbearable whiteness of homebirth advocates, and the white homebirther’s burden, but Jan Tritten’s histrionic blather in this month’s issue of Midwifery Today reaches a new low.

Even as I copy these words, I cannot believe that Tritten had the unmitigated gall to write them:

… [The] anti-slavery movement parallels our movement to free women in pregnancy and birth from the jaws of the medical establishment. This plays out all around the world with some countries being worse than others. The treatment of motherbaby is often abusive—horrendously so. Perhaps nothing is as horrible as slavery and I don’t mean to downplay it in any way by this comparison, but the effects of pregnancy, birth and the first year of life affect both mother and child for their entire lives.

Before we parse this nonsense, let’s stipulate a basic principle: NOTHING is like slavery except slavery. Slavery, particularly the American enslavement of Africans in the pre-Civil War era, is uniquely evil. Treating people like property, stealing the work of their hands, tearing families apart: there is no parallel in human existence. To compare anything to slavery is to mitigate the evil of slavery. It is deeply insensitive at best and racist at worst.

Tritten’s claims skate perilously close to racism.

Homebirth advocacy does not parallel the anti-slavery movement and it is hideous to suggest that it does. The anti-slavery movement involved people willing to give their very lives to save the lives of those in bondage. The homebirth movement is a bunch of privileged white women mouthing off about their ignorant views of childbirth. The only people giving their lives in the homebirth movement are the babies who die at the hands of homebirth midwives.

The treatment of mothers and babies in first world countries is NOT abusive and it is hysterical to suggest that it is. Even the Childbirth Connection was forced to acknowledge in its Listening to Mothers II Survey that the vast majority of American women are very happy with modern obstetric care. It is hideous to compare the whippings, rapes and lynching of slavery to the hurt feelings of a fringe group of privileged white women who didn’t get the “birth experience” of their dreams.

Perhaps nothing is as horrible as slavery? Damn straight, nothing short of genocide is as horrible as slavery. I cannot begin to imagine how Tritten thinks there might be different opinions on this issue.

She doesn’t mean to downplay slavery in any way by this comparison? Merely making this horrific, absurd comparison DOES downplay slavery and that is inexcusable. I understand that she was trying to shock and outrage her readers by elevating childbirth disappointment to the level of slavery and that is every bit as disgusting.

Contrary to the fantasies of Tritten and her colleagues, homebirth midwives are not abolitionists. They are ignorant clowns who preside over the preventable deaths of infant. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, I can write nothing as damning of the ignorance, narcissism and histrionics of homebirth advocates as they write about themselves.

Tritten should be deeply embarrassed by her racial insensitivity, but that, of course, is an oxymoron. Anyone willing to equate modern obstetrics with slavery lacks the intelligence and insight to realize the utter moral bankruptcy of her position.