The moral rot at the heart of homebirth midwifery

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Homebirth midwives have come up with a new way to bury babies twice, first in a coffin in the ground, and then by erasing their lives and deaths so that pregnant women will have no way to assess the dangers of homebirth.

It’s hardly news that homebirth midwives (CPMs, LMs, and lay midwives) are dangerous. They are lay people who awarded themselves a made up “credential” in order to trick the public into believing that they are real midwives. They’re not. They lack the education and training required of real midwives in EVERY industrialized country.

Not surprisingly, their death rates are hideous. In Oregon, the state with the highest rate of homebirth, and most comprehensive statistics, LICENSED homebirth midwives have a perinatal death rate 9X higher than comparable risk hospital birth. But their ignorance and dangerous is not the worst thing about them. The worst thing is the moral rot at the heart of homebirth midwifery.

It’s hard to blame them for being stunningly ignorant, when their “training” is based on nonsense. It’s hard to blame them for the many deaths at their hands when their own certifying agencies have LITERALLY no safety standards. But no matter how ignorant they are or how clueless they are about their own deadly mistakes, there is one thing for which they bear complete moral responsibility. I’m talking about the practice of homebirth midwives changing their names in the wake of a baby’s death in order to trick both the authorities and American women.

Consider this case from Hoboken, New Jersey:

On Sept. 18, 2012, Olivia Kimball, a 31-year-old resident of Great Meadows in Warren County, assisted in the delivery of a baby in a home on Garden Street. At 6:30 p.m. that day, the baby was pronounced dead at Hoboken University Medical Center, Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea told the media at the time.

The state medical examiner later determined that the baby had been stillborn due to an infection, according to Rubino…

Kimball was arrested on Sept. 21 and charged in a Hudson County court with unlicensed practice of medicine. The crime is a 3rd degree indictable offense, the state equivalent of a felony.

How many, many times have we heard the same story: a baby dropped dead into the hands of a clueless midwife who had no idea that the baby was in distress, let alone dead.

Since then:

… Kimball appears to have moved to the southern United States and adopted a new working last name. A professional website lists a person with the new name as director of site development for an international pro-midwifery non-governmental organization, the same position Kimball was credited as holding in a February 2012 profile in the Warren Reporter.

According to the website, she is “currently relocating to” the area and offers services as a doula, a non-medical companion who supports pregnant women during the birthing process. The website does not advertise midwifery services. (my emphasis)

This is not the first time that Kimball has attempted to trick regulators and pregnant women:

Kimball first received a license to practice midwifery in New Jersey in August 2005. Sometime between then and 2007, the Midwifery Liaison Committee of the State Board of Medical Examiners opened an investigation into her practice after learning that she had allegedly assisted in a vaginal birth for a woman who had previously received a cesarean section—also known as a VBAC—in a home setting, according to a consent order issued by a New Jersey attorney general…

In February 2007, Kimball testified before the Midwifery Liaison Committee that her patient had not informed her of her previous C-section, and that she did not perform a physical examination at the patient’s request.

Ultimately, Kimball “decided to discontinue her practice of midwifery in New Jersey and…sought permission from the board to surrender her license,” according to the consent order.

On March 19, 2007, Kimball was granted leave to surrender her license “with prejudice to any future reapplication.” According to the deputy attorney general that represents the Midwifery Liaison Committee, Kimball is not barred from reapplying, but any reapplication would require a review of the terms of her consent order.

But she didn’t stop practicing midwifery. She just continued practicing without a license or professional oversight.

This is not the first time that a homebirth midwife who has surrendered her license has continued to practice. This is not the first time a homebirth midwife has changed name in the wake of a preventable death at her hands. And it’s not the first time that a homebirth midwife, having been prosecuted in one state for a preventable death, moves to another and implies that she has a clean record. Each and every time it happens, it demonstrates the moral rot at the heart of homebirth midwifery. These actions represent both a consciousness of guilt, and an effort to preserve income by hiding their practice history. And it is emblematic of the central reality about homebirth midwives: they place making money and satisfying their desire to attend births ahead of the lives of babies and mothers.

Most states now publish the malpractice history of doctors and nurses, so patients will have access to a provider’s practice history before choosing him or her. When doctors attempt to practice without a license, the punishment is severe. When doctors lie about their malpractice history, their licenses may be revoked. And when a doctor moves and changes his name in order to hide his malpractice history, we all recognize it for the morally bankrupt, illegal action that it is.

It is no different when homebirth midwives attempt to do the same thing.

Some women do not care if their midwife has presided over previous deaths, but most do. By simultaneously exhorting women to “educate” themselves about homebirth while directly interfering with their ability to educatd themselves about practitioners, homebirth midwives demonstrate the deadly selfishness and moral rot at the heart of their “profession.”