Faith vs. ReasonAt one level, the Trust Birth Conference is a giant festival of magical thinking. A group of women is going to come together to support each other in efforts to pretend really, really hard that childbirth is inherently safe. At another level, it reveals a very serious weakness in homebirth and "natural" childbirth advocacy: the promotion of faith over rationality. That weakness is a necessary component of homebirth advocacy, because science does not support most of its contentions. Therefore, the members of the group must be exhorted to discard reason and rely on faith.
I joked in a previous post the inanity of the conference and parodied the invitation. There is another way to read that conference invitation, though, and that is through the lens of faith based exhortations. Let's compare that invitation to a similar description of the Seattle Creation Conference 2006.
Be informed by the hard evidence from Henci Goer, whose ability to summarize and critique the medical studies is among the best in the world vs. Lightspeed and Other Puzzling Data that May Support a Recent Creation
Be challenged by Michel Odent, who asks if humanity can survive our current obstetric practices vs. Why There Must Be a Creator.
Be nourished in your practice by Jan Tritten ... who will share 'The wisdom of the grandmothers' ... vs. Dinosaurs and the Bible; this presentation will show how a proper understanding of these amazing creatures confirms Scripture and can be used as an evangelistic tool to help point people to the Creator.
Be inspired by Debby Takikawa and her film "What babies want" which distills the evidence for gentle treatment of babies vs. Icons of Evolution; if you have children or grandchildren in public schools, you need to know what these icons are and how they are being used to support the theory of evolution.
Be educated outside the box with midwife Gail Hart’s workshop as she discusses whether Gestational Diabetes is a scare tactic or a legitimate concern vs. The Rise of Darwinism and Its Implications for Society.
Be immunized against false information on immunization, as Kristi Zittle shares wisdom about the risks of immunization and the benefits of natural immunity vs a seminar entitled Our Solar System: Evidence for Creation.
The similarities between the Trust Birth Conference and the Creationism Conference are more than coincidence. The Trust Birth Initiative, the sponsor of the Trust Birth Conference, has an explicitly religious unpinning. According to Carla Hartly, founder of the Trust Birth Initiative:
I have spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning of the trust part of TRUST BIRTH. Trust cannot be defined apart from faith. Because I have faith that we are made to give birth and were designed by someone much smarter than we are, I can trust that birth was meant to work. My own trust in birth is very much a part of who I am, my faith in God, and what I believe about trust and truth and purpose...The use of the words "trust" and "faith" are not coincidental, either. They are used in opposition to "reason", "education" and "scientific evidence". The Trust Birth Conference, just like the Creationism Conference has a veneer of scientific legitimacy, but the participants know that the veneer is for the benefit of the non-believers. Those who "trust birth" like those who trust God, need no proof.
The Trust Birth Initiative, like the rest of homebirth advocacy, cannot survive scientific scrutiny. Therefore, women must be trained not to subject the tenets of homebirth advocacy to scientific scrutiny. Indeed, they must be encouraged to believe that questioning in and of itself suggests a level of doubt that is incompatible with "trusting birth". To keep women in line, they are taught that doubt itself will be punished in the form of "bad" birth experiences. It's an updated version of predestination. If you are successful in having an unmedicated vaginal birth, your trust in birth has been rewarded. If you had a complication, it is a sign that you didn't "trust" enough.
Trust and faith are always necessary to get people to believe something in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary. The ultimate irony is that you must be exhorted to "trust" birth specifically because the scientific evidence shows that it is totally untrustworthy.