Lamaze and Hannah Dahlen demonstrate moral bankruptcy

Rubber stamp with word unethical inside, vector illustration
You can’t make this stuff up!

If Lamaze International and Hannah Dahlen wanted to demonstrate their contempt for the wellbeing of mothers and babies, they couldn’t do better than to promote Robert Biter as a feature speaker at their Australian conference. Nothing illustrates contempt for women quite like featuring a doctor stripped of his license for harming women.

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Biter initially had his license to practice medicine severely restricted because of 7 separate instances that the Medical Board of California described as:

“gross negligence in his care and treatment” of a patient”
“repeated negligent acts” performed on 6 additional patients”
“prescribing without an appropriate prior examination”
“acts of dishonesty with respect to the care and treatment of patients”
“failure to maintain adequate and accurate medical records”
“general unprofessional conduct”

Biter was suspended from the practice of medicine for 60 days, followed by 7 years of strict probation. However, AFTER he signed documents acknowledging the findings of the Board and the prescribed disciplinary action, but before the official start of the suspension, he presided over a homebirth death. In November of 2013 he surrendered his license to practice medicine. You can read the findings of the Board here.

Nothing illustrates contempt for women quite like featuring a doctor stripped of his license for harming women.

According to the records of the San Diego Superior Court, at least 8 lawsuits have been filed against him. I recently learned that he is trying to resurrect his career by opening a birth center in Mexico. Perhaps the licensing standards there are less stringent or perhaps the Mexican authorities are unaware of his history of “gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and general unprofessional conduct.”

Biter has publicly complained that he was victimized because of his commitment to natural childbirth but the majority of accusations of negligence and harm were claimed by GYN patients and had nothing to do with birth.

So why is he a featured speaker at a Lamaze conference on “Creating a New Paradigm in Birth”? Why is Hannah Dahlen proudly appearing along side him? Because contemporary natural childbirth ideology has precious little to do with what is good for women (otherwise why invite someone who has allegedly caused so much harm to women?) and is really about increasing employment opportunities and market share for midwives, doulas and childbirth educators.

Indeed, irony of ironies, in 2013 Biter was a featured speaker at a Human Rights in Childbirth conference. Naïvely, you or I might think that human rights in childbirth refers to making sure that all women have access to competent medical care, without regard for ability to pay, that incarcerated women not be forced to labor in chains, and that women have access to birth control. Don’t be foolish. Who cares about those women? HRiC is about the “rights” of white, Western, relatively well off midwives, doulas and childbirth educators to do and say whatever they want and be paid for it.

What about the human rights of the women and babies injured and killed by negligent and unprofessional providers? They apparently have no rights at all. Lamaze and Dahlen should be ashamed of themselves for associating with Robert Biter, but we’ve known for a long time that they are beyond shame.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Is Dr. Biter the same as “Bedside Man” or is that a different one?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I always get them mixed up, because it seems so obvious that Dr Biter should be the one who used his dr position to seduce women, but, no, that’s Fischbein.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Well Fischbein means “whale bone” in German. Maybe that will help me remember…

  • rational thinker

    I just read about one of his victims. He should be in fucking prison! I will read the rest tomorrow im too pissed off to finish it right now.

    • mabelcruet

      http://www.robertmbiter.com/

      His personal website is a masterclass in writing reams of text whilst saying absolutely nothing with content or meaning. It’s pure, unadulterated horseshit. Not a single word about being unable to practise medicine, his legal woes, the proven offences of malpractice, its all ‘holistic’, ‘spiritual’, and ‘mama-centered’ garbage whilst also going for the cutesy, quirky, Instagram manic pixie dream girl influencer angle.

      The closest he comes to saying he’s not a doctor and not allowed to practise as one is “it soon became very clear that the politics of the hospital and the perspectives of the older physicians were not in alignment with Biter’s strong beliefs about birth” (meaning that the other physicians believed in treating patients ethically and professionally and in line with evidenced best practice, unlike Biter).

      • rational thinker

        All the pictures in his “work” portfolio are just pictures of him swimming and in a halloween costume, ect. The whole site is just horrid. I just loved the picture of him on the couch with a few newborns behind him in very unsafe spots which tells me he does not give a shit about the safety of anyone but himself.

  • Anj Fabian

    As much as Biter has against him, Dahlen is higher on my personal list of people who are a danger to the public. She’s still active in leadership.

    I need to finish my self assigned task to read as much of her published work as I can. When I first encountered her writings, I thought she had an interesting but biased POV. Now I think she’s firmly about promoting midwifery at any cost.

    • mabelcruet

      She is one of the most fervent pushers of the microbiome theories, and epigenetics based theories. She set up a ‘working group’ and produces a lot of speculative papers about her EPIIC hypothesis that are long on promises and possibilities and short on facts and evidence. But she lectures widely on it, and discusses it as though is a proven scientific fact. For example, she claims that sections adversely impact the health of the mother and the baby because of epigenetics and that leads to lifelong health problems. We don’t know that yet-it certainly isn’t sufficient reason to not carry out a section in the event of fetal distress-in looking at the balance between a very high risk of infant brain damage vs a potential, unknown, non-measurable and non-quantifiable effect on the baby, the correct action is get the baby out quick. She talks about eustress (stress being good for the baby)-its not good stress when there’s a placental abruption or chorioamnionitis and the baby’s brain is at risk of liquefying, but she glosses over that and implies that all medical interventions are not warranted because of the harm they cause, regardless of the harm they prevent.

  • mabelcruet

    She’s an apologist for Lisa Barrett, who has been merrily killing babies for years. Buried in the coroner’s report into the deaths of those babies, Dahlen conceded that there was increased risk for homebirths, but in public she claims tightening up regulations to ensure patient safety in homebirth would drive homebirth midwifery underground-her ‘logic’ is bizarre.

    It’s interesting-Biter, who has given up his license and has been proven to be an incompetent doctor who acted inappropriately towards patients is still considered a doctor, but Dr T, who relinquished her license whilst in good standing with no disciplinary offences, no accusations of misconduct, and who keeps well up to date with research is considered out of date, not competent to discuss medicine in any shape or form, not able to critique papers, and usually referred to as “doctor”. It’s positively scary the type of person this crowd will get into bed with as long as they can be persuaded to say the right thing. I wonder if Sarah Buckley is going too-that would be a homebirth trifecta of terror!

    • Mel

      Well, that’s what makes NCB a cultic organization. The only moral question that exists is “Do you support NCB wholeheartedly?”. Everyone who answers “Yes” is moral while everyone who answers “No” is a monster.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “but Dr T who relinquished her license whilst in good standing…”

      Not to be nit-picky, but she didn’t relinquish her license, she just let her active license run out. Here in the US those are 2 different things. It is expensive and time consuming to maintain an active license. State fees + DEA fees + CME fees + MOC fees + Boards fees add up to thousands of dollars and many hours per year. So if you are not actively using it (example staying home with kids as Dr. Tuteur did), most docs just let it all run out. It can be renewed easily enough by catching up on education hours, paying fees, renewing the paperwork etc. This is very different than relinquishing a license which is something a doc might do if they were struggling for some reason and didn’t want to fight the Board (think resigning rather than being fired.)

      • mabelcruet

        Different system to the UK-sorry, I was wording it based on our UK situation. In the UK, the GMC regulate doctors and issues licenses to practise. If you retire, there’s a range of options-you can remain on the medical register but relinquish your license to practice (this means that you are still registered so if you change your mind about retiring, or want to do some part time work then you can apply for a license again). If you want to remain on the register, even though you’re doing no medical work, it costs a fair bit.

        You can also relinquish your licence and resign from membership meaning you are no longer registered. Technically, if you do it this way you can reapply in future to go back on the register and renew your licence, but this is really complex to do. If you want to end your registration, the GMC require you to obtain a declaration of good standing (indicating that there are no outstanding medical negligence claims involving you). It’s not permitted to relinquish registration whilst you have an active complaint or negligence claim against you, they see it as trying to get out of trouble.

        The GMC prefers you to relinquish your registration formally with the declaration (and you have to pay them a big lump sum to) but increasingly, doctors are simply stopping paying their fees and letting their registration lapse, and this means they are automatically removed from the register for ‘administrative reasons’. There’s a growing annoyance amongst doctors having to pay to be allowed to stop work. If you remain registered but without a licence, you can’t practise medicine in the UK, but you still have to pay GMC fees. On the whole, people are taking themselves off the register completely and relinquishing their license without bothering with the good standing thing.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Interesting how different it is from country to country. And also from state to state here in the US. Many states have now created an emeritus license to designate those who have retired from medicine in good standing. In my state it requires a clean record, a short application, and a one time $50 fee (It is also very easily reversed, especially within the first few years, for doctors who change their minds.) The emeritus license does not allow you to practice medicine or prescribe, but it is useful to doctors who still intend to be active in their communities (as letter writers to the paper, political leaders etc) because it makes it clear they are in good standing. In this way, an emeritus designation would have been useful for Dr. Tuteur, but in most states it’s only been available in the last decade or so.

          • mabelcruet

            An emeritus license sounds sensible, but I think here it costs far more to stay on the register after retirement, the annual retention fee is £143 each year. That’s for people who don’t want to practice medicine, but I don’t really see the point of paying to stay on the register when you don’t need to. Even more expensive is revalidation-if you want to remain on the register you have to abide by the regulations for appraisal and revalidation, which means doing all the continuing professional development. If you aren’t working for a designated body (like a clinic or hospital), it costs £1127 to revalidate.

            The other issue is that if you remove yourself from the register, you are no longer allowed to be an expert witness, even if you’ve only just taken yourself off. It’s like they think your brains dribble out of the back of your head the minute you lay hands on your ‘Happy Retirement!’ card from work.