What is ImprovingBirth.org trying to accomplish by encouraging the woman in the forced episiotomy video to file a lawsuit she can’t win?


I don’t get it.

And, of course, the folks at ImprovingBirth.org won’t explain it or even respond to my tweets.

I’ve written before about the shameless way that both ImprovingBirth.org and Human Rights in Childbirth have relentlessly exploited “Kelly” (her real name appears to be posted with the YouTube video, but IB and HRiC have chosen to give her an Anglo pseudonym).

Why is Human Rights in Childbirth protecting the doctor in the so-called “Forced Episiotomy” video?

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

and there most recent pointless stunt, ImprovingBirth.org boasts about latest effort to exploit the woman in the “forced episiotomy” video.

As I wrote then:

Apparently, the folks at ImprovingBirth.org are extending their exploitation of Kelly from tragedy to farce. Birth advocates should take note. It costs money to provide real help to Kelly, and the money they raise goes to enhancing THEIR public visibility. It costs nothing to drag Kelly to the police station, have her share an intimate video with strangers who aren’t going to be able to help her, while garnering free publicity of ImprovingBirth.org…

Too bad that Kelly is being used yet again.

Not surprisingly that accomplished nothing besides promoting ImprovingBirth.org.

Today ImprovingBirth.org began raising money for the latest pointless stunt, “Kelly,” Who Had a Forced Episiotomy, Goes to Court.

Let’s review how we got to this point:

Based on a video taken by family members, “Kelly” was treated abysmally and disrespectfully by her doctor. Though there was no evidence of an emergency, her doctor cut an episiotomy over her objections. It didn’t look like any episiotomy I’ve ever seen; he cut her multiple times and it’s difficult to imagine how that could be justified.

Her doctor does need to be held to account. There are multiple ways to do so, some more likely to produce results than others.

“Kelly” spoke with the hospital administration but was not satisfied by their response. It’s hard to evaluate their response since no one at IB or HRiC has clearly articulated what Kelly wants.

She could report the doctor to the Medical Board of California. It is unclear whether this has been done or how they responded.

She filed an entirely pointless claim at the local police station which accomplished nothing for her, but generated lots of publicity for ImprovingBirth.org.

She has tried to find a lawyer to file a lawsuit, but according to IB, she has been unable to do so. That’s almost certainly because she can’t pay a lawyer and wants someone to take the case on contingency (where the lawyer gets 1/3 of any money won, but nothing if the case is lost). And that’s almost certainly because she can’t fulfill one of the most important criteria for a successful malpractice suit, permanent injury or damage.

The lawyers at IB or HRiC could represent her, or pay someone to represent her, but they don’t want to do that. Instead, they’ve encouraged her to represent herself (pro se).

We must raise at least $1,500 in the next 10 days to cover the filing fees, process server fees, lost wages for Kelly to take off work, and travel expenses from where Kelly now lives, several hours away from where she had her baby.


It can’t be that she has a high chance of winning or obtaining a substantial amount in damages; lawyers have already told her that she DOESN’T have a substantial chance of winning, and it will cost a great deal of time and money.

According to IB:

She is being supported every step of the way by a team that includes the president and vice president of Improving Birth and representatives (including lawyers) from Human Rights in Childbirth and the Birth Rights Bar Association, who have volunteered thousands of dollars worth of time and resources.

If they’ve spent thousands of dollars in time and resources, they KNOW that Kelly’s chances of getting her case into court, prosecuting it, winning it, and obtaining damages or vindication from it, are close to nil.

According to IB:

Please help Kelly meet this deadline and get her lawsuit filed. This initial $1,500 is a fraction of the estimated cost to litigate her case (up to $100,000), but it’s a necessary step if she will ever be able to seek justice in a court of law.

But she’s already been told that she’s very unlikely to find justice in a court of law.

Why should “Kelly” put herself through this if it is not going to bring the resolution she wants?

Indeed, the only people I can see benefiting from this are the folks at ImprovingBirth.org who are using “Kelly” to generate publicity.

Kelly Rios, if you are reading this, feel free to contact me through my email address on the sidebar. I will try to connect you with people who can explain your options and won’t exploit you for publicity purposes in the process.

A lawsuit is not a trivial matter, as I have reason to know. You should never embark on a lawsuit unless there is a reasonable expectation that you will achieve your aim. You’ve already been told by lawyers that you won’t, so think very carefully before you go down this road. It will cost you time, money, anxiety, and probably grief.

I don’t doubt for a moment that the folks at IB and HRiC have been genuinely supportive. Anyone who cares about human rights should be upset by the video and help you seek redress, and they truly care about women’s rights. But that doesn’t mean that representing yourself in a lawsuit is going to help you.

Don’t do anything that won’t benefit you directly, and it sounds like representing yourself pro se is not going to achieve your aim, whatever it might be.