Wednesday, July 16, 2008

To Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein have set up a new website to promote their film The Business of Being Born. The website has a message board, so I submitted a question:
I am wondering how you feel about the fact that the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) is currently withholding the safety data that they have collected since 2001.

According to a public statement by MANA (, these statistics are available only to those who can prove they will use them for "the advancement of midwifery". Even then, you must sign a legal non-disclosure agreement to prevent sharing of the data with anyone else.

Don't you think that MANA is ethically obligated to release the safety data they have collected? Their refusal to release it publicly, and their insistence that anyone who sees it must be vetted and sign a confidentiality agreement in advance suggests that MANA's own data shows that homebirth increases the risk of neonatal death.

This is especially important in light of the fact that the US government has begun collecting data on place of delivery and birth attendant. The first dataset (2003-2004) was recently released at the CDC Wonder website and it shows that the most dangerous form of planned birth in the US is homebirth with a direct entry midwife. In fact, the risk of neonatal death at homebirth with a direct entry midwife is triple that of low risk birth in the hospital.

Shouldn’t MANA release its data so we can be sure that it does not confirm the CDC statistics?
The comments are moderated and posted on an RSS feed. I wonder if they will post my comment. I wonder about two other things, too:

Are Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein aware that MANA is suppressing its own homebirth safety data?

If they are not aware, will they make an effort to find out why MANA will not let women see the safety data that it has collected?

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