What has Improving Birth done for the woman in the “forced episiotomy” video besides exploit her?

iStock_000015876280Small copy

Over the last few days I’ve been writing about the cynical exploitation by Human Rights in Childbirth of a woman who endured a forced episiotomy. Human Rights in Childbirth is protecting the identity of the doctor in the video, and is now deleting and banning anyone who dares to question why they have not filed a complaint against the doctor with the California Board of Medicine. Apparently the right to free speech is not one of the human rights in childbirth.

But HRiC was not the first group to exploit the mother in the video to promote homebirth midwifery while simultaneously doing nothing to obtain redress for her. That distinction goes to Improving Birth.

Who is Improving Birth and how do they aim to improve birth for women?

I know you will be shocked, shocked to learn that they are homebirth professionals who earn the bulk of their income by promoting birth outside hospitals. The founder is Dawn Thompson, a doula. As far as I can determine by perusing the sponsors, there is no one involved who could actually improve birth for the 99% of women who give birth in hospitals. The organization, just like Human Rights in Childbirth (also a sponsor) is yet another astro-turf organization hiding behind “grass roots” support of improved birth, but actually shilling for greater market share and profits for homebirth midwives and doulas. And just like HRiC, their favored technique for fundraising and publicity is fomenting distrust of doctors by implying that the wrong doing of one doctor represents the standards of all obstetricians.

What has Improving Birth done to seek redress for “Kelly,” the mother in the video? Not a damn thing because they don’t really care about Kelly beyond using her for fundraising. They haven’t assisted her in filing an official complaint with the hospital, they haven’t helped her file a complaint with the California Board of Medicine, they haven’t helped her obtain legal counsel, and, most importantly, they have not outed the doctor and hospital where the incident took place.

What does Improving Birth recommend that viewers of the video should do:

Helps Improving Birth

What a surprise! Every suggestion — sign a petition, use social media to promote Improving Birth, attending an Improving Birth rally, tell a story of violation under the aegis of Improving Birth, and give money to Improving birth — benefits Improving Birth. And NONE of the suggestions benefit Kelly in any way!

It’s actually not a surprise when you look past the inspiring language of Improving Birth to the real purpose of the organization. I imagine that they aren’t opposed to improving birth in hospitals, but they aren’t particularly concerned about it, either. The purpose of the organization is to increase market share and profits for homebirth midwives and doulas. Individual women are merely the dupes employed for the purpose.

It is both easy and free for Kelly, or Improving Birth, or Human Rights in Childbirth to file a complaint with the California Board of Medicine. According to Improving Birth:

As far as we know, this doctor is still attending women and babies at this hospital.

And as far as I know, neither Improving Birth or HRiC has lifted a finger to prevent it.

That’s rather surprising when you consider that:

… In [Kelly’s] case, there is no question about the facts she relayed. We can confirm her story, because it was captured on video (see “The Birth” below). Kelly’s mother filmed her grandson’s birth (with the full knowledge of the doctor in attendance)…

In other words, it isn’t a “he said, she said” situation. There is video evidence and the video was taken with the doctor’s permission, so there is no legal barrier to submitting it to the Board of Medicine.

According to Improving Birth:

Kelly told us that when she hand-delivered her complaint six months ago, she spoke with the hospital’s Director of Women’s Services for 45 minutes about what had happened.

She says she never received a response, even after inquiring several times about what was being done or what the next steps were…

But I bet a follow up letter on the stationery of Improving Birth or HRiC would elicit a prompt response, yet neither organization has sent one.

Why haven’t either Improving Birth or HRiC made ANY efforts to help Kelly seek redress?

There are a number of possible answers and all of them undermine the stated purposes of the organizations:

1. The video excerpt does not reflect the full story of what happened.

2. The doctor has already been disciplined and IB and HRiC don’t want women to know that the system works.

3. IB and HRiC couldn’t care less what happens to Kelly. They got what they wanted from her, yet another opportunity to increase market share and income of homebirth midwives and doulas by fomenting distrust of doctors. Now that they the propaganda they wanted, poor “Kelly” is on her own.

Perhaps IB and HRiC really mean that crap that they spew. After all, Hermine Hayes-Klein of HRiC came to this blog hoping to call my bluff by soliciting my services as an expert witness. I called her bluff; I’d be more than happy to serve as an expert witness. Moreover, I’d be happy to help Kelly file a complaint with the California Board of Medicine or find legal counsel in California.

If HRiC (or IB) were really interested in improving birth and promoting human rights in childbirth, they would have jumped on my offers of assistance. Instead, HRiC erased my comments from their website and Facebook page and banned me from commenting.

Why? Because HRiC (and IB) don’t give a damn about Kelly and her forced episiotomy and it was far too embarrassing to have that pointed out.