I got a comment today from the author of a Babymed piece about the petition for safer homebirth. She wrote about it too, and I went to check out the article. The petition is for very basic precautions, namely licensing and insurance for home birth midwives, something I am advocating for in my state. How could anyone object? Well, like this…
Ingrid Anderson commented
“It’s really difficult to tell who exactly the “Coalition for Safer Homebirth” is. Smart marketing for a petition that at its core is anti-homebirth and entrenches confusion and obstacles to caring for women and babies well and safely at home.
Calling for the eradication of midwives is ugly political history repeating itself (this time led by privileged white women?)….
A privileged white CNM in a state that, thankfully, recognizes the tremendous contribution of CPMs!”
Ingrid thinks that requiring licensure and insurance “entrenches confusion and obstacles to caring for women and babies well and safely at home”. How? Being licensed as a CPM is a joke, all you need are 40 births and to pass a single exam, but midwives still oppose those very basic measures.
Next she says the petition calls for the eradication of midwives, and claims that the proof of that is in that “privileged white women” are calling for it. The petition absolutely does not call for the eradication of midwives. The even more stringent laws that physicians and nurses must obey have not eradicated the profession of medicine, and has actually improved it significantly since the days of unlicensed, rogue medicine.
What is funny to me about this is the fact that home birth midwives serve predominantly privileged white women, like Ricki Lake. Your race, sex, and income level are only relevant if you oppose home birth, it seems! In reality the coalition is mostly home birth loss parents, so they are likely to be white and upper class just like most women that home birth. It would be downright strange for the demographic of those harmed by the profession deviated wildly from the demographic of the population they serve.
The other thing that the midwife ignores is the reverence for white males in the natural child birth movement. Grantly dick reed wrote Birth Without Fear, and was an outspoken white supremacist. Marsden Wagner is another dead white patriarch who is worshipped in home birth circles despite being a pediatrician instead of an obstetrician or a neonatologist. Michael Odent is revered, despite spouting damaging lies about the mode of birth ruining the bond between mother and child (I suppose people find his accent charming?). Someone is probably thinking “WHAT ABOUT INA MAY GASKIN???!!!” right now, and the truth is that she was in a patriarchal sex cult when she learned midwifery. Her husband, stephen gaskin, is the one who decided unmedicated birth on their compound was the law of the land. He also decided having sex with anyone you felt like was the law of the land, and hence so many pregnancies. Ina May just did her wifely duty in delivering the babies and trying to spread her beliefs to other people. The natural child birth ideology that started in soviet russia was borne out of necessity- they didn’t have enough pain relief to go around, and they couldn’t say anything bad about the government failing to provide, so the lie that unmedicated birth was superior was born to keep women in line. That’s an uglier history than the migration to hospital birth.
I also need to address the exploitation of women of color in developing nations by natural child birth workers like CPMs and some doulas. Anyone who is trying to be a CPM knows its damn hard to find someone to study under to get your 40 births, and so some have resorted to going to different nations to help poor people give birth. They can’t offer much real help because they lack equipment and knowledge, but instead of say fundraising to help bring actual obstetric help to developing nations and then studying there, they simply send worthless helpers who fly back home and start delivering babies as “professional” midwives. They are delivering anyones baby without the hope of hospital transfer, normalizing dangerous situations for the midwives that decide to do an international externship. I’ve documented time and time again that sometimes a negligent midwife is worse than giving birth alone, and the stories of women in other countries who suffered under an ignorant or cruel midwife are unlikely to ever be heard. The midwife international scandal is enough proof of how dirty this type of “training” really is.
This is the kind of off-the-wall opposition you get when you try to make home birth midwives meet a minimal standard of professionalism. You are suddenly racist and eliminationist, despite just asking for a license and insurance.