Dead babies? Hilarious!


Australian midwife Lisa Barrett is standing astride a pile of tiny dead bodies and … laughing. Apparently dead babies are hilarious.

Barrett has presided over the death of at least six babies, the five I wrote about earlier this week and a sixth that remains unnamed. You might have thought that would have sobered her. You’d be wrong. She was recently arrested for manslaughter in the deaths of two babies under her care. You might have thought that would finally sober her. Wrong again.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Even among a group of women notorious for their callousness and narcissism, Lisa Barrett stands apart.[/pullquote]

As a condition of her bail, Barrett was required to take down her website Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny. Instead she redirected it to the photo above. It’s a picture of comedians Laurel and Hardy. Barrett title the phot “silenced” and, in case that was too subtle for you, named the page “Lisa Be Quiet!”

Well she certainly showed us, didn’t she? The rest of us may be horrified and grieved by the preventable death of six babies, but Barrett thinks the dead babies are a joke. The only thing she’s worried about is her “right” to let babies die.

Barrett herself appears to be widely despised within the midwifery community, not because of the dead babies, but because of her personality. Nonetheless, she does have some defenders.

Consider this overwrought verbiage from American “traditional birth attendant” midwife Maryn Green in The Time Has Come For Women To Stand Up And Speak:

This blog post is in support and solidarity of Lisa Barrett; a mentor and friend who is being persecuted in Australia for supporting women in birth. Lisa is/was one of the most genuine, humble and brilliant women I have ever met. I want her to know, from across the world, that she is supported and loved. Midwifery is the worse for her not in it, and the price we will pay for her persecution is huge.

Who cares about dead babies? Certainly not Maryn. In a 1200 word piece Green doesn’t mention even one of the dead babies even once. Why would she? She cares only about herself and her sister midwives.

We see our sister midwives being hunted, being chased, searched, thrown in jail, their phones being tapped. It’s enough to scare most people from even considering midwifery as a hobby, much less a full time passion. We see “her,” Lisa Barrett, persecuted and we shrink back in fear.

How could homebirth midwives be so callous? All too many of them bear a striking resemblance to sociopaths.

WikiHow has an illustrated guide to spotting a sociopath. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, but the basic characteristics are all there.

1. Someone is dead or severely injured and the homebirth midwife has no remorse.

Look for a lack of shame. Most sociopaths can commit vile actions and not feel the least bit of remorse… If the person is a true sociopath, then he or she will feel no remorse about hurting others …

Most obstetricians, midwives and obstetric nurses are devastated by an obstetric death. There is tremendous grief, anxiety and soul searching. Could we have saved that baby or mother if we had done something different? Did we make a mistake? Providers may give up obstetrics in the wake of a death. If they feel they are responsible, some will go so far as to commit suicide.

Many homebirth midwives respond in the exact opposite way. They can give a long exposition about their legal woes without once mentioning the fact that a baby is dead, let alone mentioning the name of the baby or the circumstances of the death.

There is no soul-searching, no root-cause analysis. The death is dismissed with a callous, “Some babies are meant to die.” or “Babies die in the hospital, too.”

I’ve never seen a clearer expression of homebirth midwives’ bone chilling lack of concern for dead babies than this quote from Geradine Simkins, former President of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), the organization that represents homebirth midwives, in From Calling to Courtroom; A Survival Guide for Midwives:

You know, babies die; it’s part of life. And only those entrenched in the bio-technical model think that that it doesn’t, or shouldn’t happen. I have traveled extensively in other countries, mostly developing nations, and people understand this reality elsewhere. I once arrived at the house of a midwife in another country the morning a baby had died in a homebirth. I found that the family had embraced the midwife and was so grateful to her—because the mother did not die. They were understandably sad about the baby, but families expect that a baby might die. A mother dying is considered beyond tragic. It’s a matter of perspective.

2. The homebirth midwife refuses to accept any blame and lashes out at any attempt to hold her responsible.

When a sociopath does something wrong, he or she is likely to accept none of the blame and to blame others instead.

Or worse, she is likely to cry “persecution,” setting up Facebook pages and fundraising campaigns to solicit support and money.

Want to get money from other homebirth advocates? Just let a baby die!

A homebirth midwife who is alleged to have presided over the death of a very premature baby after insisting that homebirth would be fine, interfered with an ambulance crew trying to rescue a hemorrhaging mother, lied on medical records, and MAY HAVE MULTIPLE DEAD BABIES BURIED ON HER PROPERTY, is the beneficiary of a fundraising campaign.

An unlicensed homebirth midwife who was arrested for presiding over a homebirth death AND prostitution received enough donations to “free” her that she could make bail, and then violated the terms.

There appears to be no death so appalling and no circumstance so egregious that homebirth advocates will not rally to support the midwife … not the parents.

3. Homebirth midwives do not learn from their mistakes.

Sociopaths do not learn from their mistakes and repeat the same ones again and again.

Homebirth midwives learn nothing from a disaster or death, refuse to accept any blame and lash out at any attempt to hold them responsible. Inevitably, some will go on to preside over additional deaths. The average obstetrician may lose 1 or 2 term babies in a 40 year career encompassing thousands of births. There are quite a few homebirth midwives who have lost 2 or 3 babies in less than a decade, encompassing 100 or 200 births, if that. Lisa Barrett has lost at least 6 babies from 2007-2012.

MANA, the Midwives Alliance of North America, which represents homebirth midwives has LITERALLY no safety standards, so there is no teaching about safety. There’s no reason to have safety standards when safety is not important.

4. Homebirth midwives have no compunction about lying to protect themselves.

Sociopaths are perfectly comfortable going through their lives telling a series of lies. In fact, true sociopaths are uncomfortable when they are telling the truth. If they are finally caught in a lie, then they will continue to lie and backpedal to cover up the lies.

Indeed From Calling to Courtroom includes advice on lying in specific situation.

In the future my motto is, “No witnesses”…  For those midwives who do carry Pitocin, I would advise them to never admit it to anyone who has the ability to testify (that is, anyone except your husband). If a midwife ever feels the need to inject Pitocin or administer any kind of drug, such as Methergine, she should refer to such substances as “minerals.”

5. Homebirth midwives are emotionally manipulative.

Sociopaths understand human weakness and exploit it maximally. Once determined, they can manipulate individuals to do just about anything. Sociopaths prey on weak people and often stay away from equally strong people; they look for people who are sad, insecure, or looking for a meaning in life because they know that these people are soft targets.


There are just the highlights of sociopathy, but even a quick perusal suggests that homebirth midwifery (and doctors who support homebirth midwifery) has more than its share of sociopaths. These are people who preside over deaths and serious injuries of babies and mothers, but express no remorse, refuse to accept any responsibility, consider efforts to hold them accountable to be “persecution,” lie repeatedly to protect themselves, emotionally manipulate clients and refuse to learn from their deadly mistakes.

But even among a group of women notorious for their callousness and narcissism, Lisa Barrett stands apart.