Enigmatic commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod (that’s not him in the picture, just a relative) returned to Ethics Alarms after an unexplained absence (though who knows how time passes in his dimension) to provide one of several excellent observations on the post and poll about “Judith,” the expectant mother whose faith in a “freebirthing” cult cost her unborn child his life. The comments of Tim LeVier, Humble Talent, JutGory, and Mrs. Q, among others, were all Comment of the Day worthy, but for now, I’m going to award EC the prize.
First off, I’m grateful for all the nuanced and well-considered opinions here. I can always count on getting reasonably well-balanced information about human society from people’s experiences here, and the encouragement that reasonable people are not alone–just not yet organized.
The poll didn’t let me vote multiple times, but I’m tempted to select “all of the above,” in the sense that “responsible” can mean “contributing to the problem and needing to change.” For “primarily responsible,” I’m obligated to go with “Judith,” since she is presumed to have ultimate decision-making authority in this case.
That survey question by the National Partnership for Women & Families spins so hypnotically, I’d like to take it off its axle.
“Giving birth is a natural process that should not be interfered with unless absolutely medically necessary.” Who wouldn’t agree to that?
1. Yes, giving birth is objectively and literally a natural process, in that humans didn’t deliberately design it. (Although I wouldn’t put it past them to have done so under a tight budget of time and money. I’ve supported software rollouts that were just as awkward and painful.)
However, stating something to be “a natural process” in so many words implies on an emotional level that it is by default perfectly healthy and should remain purely natural, which is an appeal to nature fallacy. “Cancer is a natural process.” “Epidemics are a natural process.” “Hurricanes are a natural process.” There are plenty of natural things that I am very grateful civilization has altered or wants to alter using technology. Continue reading →
This is a terrible and tragic story, but I don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on accountability.
NBC tells the true story (I assume it is true, exactly why, I don’t know, since this is NBC. It’s not related to politics, I guess.) of “Judith” who worked at a flower shop. On her long daily drive to work and back, she listened to podcasts, and when she got pregnant, she listened to “The Birth Hour” and “Indie Birth,” podcasts about childbirth stories, which ranged from hospital to home births.The “Free Birth Podcast” excited her particularly.
The podcaster is Emilee Saldaya, a Los Angeles freebirth advocate and founder of the Free Birth Society that has 46,000 followers on Instagram. The podcast promotes the experiences of women who give birh without assistance, in bathtubs, fields, or in their own beds, surrounded by their partners loved ones. Doctors were not welcome.
Judith listened to around 70 episodes, some multiple times. A particular favorite was an interview with a woman who had given birth by candlelight in a yurt in the California mountains with only her husband and her dog she called her a “midwolf.”
I’m having a flashback to 1967.
The podcasts began with advertisements for the Free Birth Society’s online courses and private consultations; this is often the tell-tale sign of a cult. Judith dutifully paid $299 for the group’s 10-module video guide on how to freebirth babies at home. None of the “experts” and “consultants” the group sponsored have medical credentials or experience; that’s the point. Judith didn’t like doctors, so she was a vulnerable target for the group’s message, which emphasized that hospitals were scary places, and hospital births were full of trauma for mother and child.
NBC reports that distrust of the medical profession regarding childbirth is on the rise. A survey conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families claims that while in 2002, 45 percent of mothers surveyed agreed that “giving birth is a natural process that should not be interfered with unless absolutely medically necessary, the number had increased to 74% by 2018.
Could this possibly be accurate? When did giving birth by squatting and biting on a stick become cool again?
When she got past to her due date and Judith’s pregnancy approached its tenth month, she relied on the Free Birth Society course’s episode on “long pregnancies” for guidance. That podcast warned against inducing a pregnancy, a process it referred to as “eviction from the womb.” It insisted that the idea that “babies must be born before 42 weeks is nonsense.”
Judith had her amniotic fluid checked at a local hospital, and though there were no causes for alarm, a doctor thee urged her to schedule an induction. She made the appointment, but canceled it the next day. She sought, NBC says, a second opinion on Facebook. “43+1 today, politely declining hospital induction. They think I’m crazy,” Judith posted on Ten Month Mamas in January 2019. “I really feel like this baby wants a home birth too but we are definitely being tested. What would you mamas do?” Hundreds of comments supported her desire for a home-based freebirth.
No one told her she should do what the doctor had advised, and there was a reason for that. Several of the groups had rules forbidding members from suggesting that another member resort to a doctor or a midwife. “Unassisted Pregnancy & Childbirth,” for example, instructed its 4,600 members,
“This means we don’t want to hear about the tests your midwife wants you to take, or how your OB thinks baby is breech or ‘too big’ or whatever other shit they say. Just don’t. This is not the place. No induction discussion. We do not advocate for induction of any kind, as no induction is natural.”
Egged on by Facebook extremists, Judith told NBC that she became determined resolved to freebirth alone, “no matter what.”
When the day she had decided to freebirth arrived, Judith “walked and danced for hours through contractions and floated in a pool that her husband filled with water.” She listened to music as a friend massaged her back. She took short naps between contractions…everything she had learned from the podcasts. But the pain increased and the breaks between contractions shortened. After 10 hours of labor, Judith started vomiting. The contractions were coming too fast and violently for her to monitor the baby’s heart rate with the fetal stethoscope she had bought. Her water broke, and there was dark brown in it, fecal matter that would kill the baby if it was inhaled. Her husband drove her to the hospital, doubled up in pain. Once there, Judith got the medical assistance she had vowed to avoid, but too late. Her baby was dead.
Stipulated: This should not have happened.
Who’s primarily responsible? For this poll, I’m going to allow multiple voting, because I don’t think there is a single answer.
“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
—-A spokesperson for Apple last week, following confirmation that it had removed five out of six podcasts by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, including “The Alex Jones Show” and some of his InfoWars audio streams.
This is a terrifying statement…almost as terrifying as the fact that so many Americans won’t understand why it’s terrifying. Unless one does not understand the First Amendment and why its principles are the beating heart of American democracy, or unless you are an increasingly typical 21st Century progressive, who feels that the Left should have the power to decide what kind of speech is tolerable, Apple is telling us that it is going to use its immense power and influence over the distribution of ideas to suit its preferences regarding what people should see, hear, and think. Continue reading →
Here, in a Cato podcast featuring Charles Murray,we are presented with a troubling—and, I think, accurate diagnosis of a growing problem within American society. Murray worries that because of increasing social isolation and a removal from actual rather than remote and virtual life experiences, the American public is losing touch with core values essential to what makes this culture unique and productive.
The interview is 15 minutes, and raises two issues. The first is what Murray is directly discussing. The second is whether someone like Murray raising them can have any positive impact at all. Charles Murray is a bête noire. of the Left. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls him a white nationalist. Many liberals regard him as a racist. I have read many of his works: I would call him someone who makes a good living pointing out unpleasant theories that wouldn’t help us solve society’s problems even if we could prove they are true. Continue reading →
1. News Item: “More than 130 imams and Muslim religious leaders in the United Kingdom have said they will refuse to perform funeral prayersfor the Manchester and London terrorists as a rebuke to the “dastardly cowardice” of the “vile murderers.” Notes Ethics Alarms issue scout Fred, “This time it’s religious institutions refusing [to provide a service based on religious/political beliefs and conduct], and it’s based on the actions of the people they’re refusing to pray for or bury. On the other hand, anyone born in Scotland is entitled to the government’s services even if he’s No True Scotsman. By analogy, is it right for them to deny funerals to Muslims, even the most egregiously sinful?
I’d have to do more research on Islam than I have time for right now to address that question, but it’s an interesting one.
2. As a follow-up to New Orleans’ lamentable decision to remove statues honoring Confederate figures (discussed on Ethics Alarms here), The Atlantic published an exhaustive brief against the “myth” that Robert E. Lee was worthy of his reputation as a noble human being who fought for Virginia out of loyalty to his “country,” but who deplored slavery. I have criticized the hero-worship of Lee as well, but much of what is in Adam Serwer’s article was completely unknown to me. If accurate, it is horrifying. Just one example:
“Lee’s cruelty as a slavemaster was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading the Man, the historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families,” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.”
3. I’ll discuss the Comey testimony in detail later, but I came close to writing about the unseemly and self-indicting display of gleeful anticipation by much of the news media (and “the resistance,” of course) over what they were just certain would be the smoking gun to get President Trump impeached. CNN had a countdown, second by second, on-screen the whole previous day, like Christmas was coming. Ann Althouse nicely summed up how foolish and ugly this was:Continue reading →
Ethics Alarms covered the problem way back in 2011, in a post called “Getting Scrod in Boston: The Ravages of Seafood Fraud. I just checked: almost nobody has read it, and those who have almost certainly have 1) forgotten about it and 2) been ripped off buying seafood since.
Now the guys at “Stuff You Should Know” have done an excellent podcast about the issue. It really is infuriating that with all the regulations we pay for, and all the attention the government focuses on fads, politically correct crusades (how many Americans are affected by limitations on which public rest rooms can be openly used by transgender citizens?) , and out-and-out trivia, something like this goes not only unaddressed by officials, but ignored as well. The news media, meanwhile, would rather use its limited daily space to tell us how Stephen Colbert just skewered Donald Trump last night than to warn us about our pockets being picked.
Well, not me: I almost never buy seafood unless it’s raw oysters, whole shrimp or crab, and if I’m in New England, Ipswich clams and lobster, all hard to fake. Continue reading →
I have been on the radio a lot recently. The opinions expressed there will not surprise anyone who is a regular reader of Ethics Alarms, but for those curious about whether I speak with a British accent or a bi-lateral lisp, or those who are aurally inclined, below are links to three radio shows that had me as a guest of late, and one that interviewed me as background, and included some of my comments.
Thanks to the efforts of Arthur King, I was tapped this morning for an interview on WGAN’s morning news show, hosted by Mike Violette and Dennis Bailey, standing in for Ken Altshuler. The topic was the Jonathan Gruber matter, and they were taking the cue from my most recent post on it.
You can listen to the podcast for the segment, which was about 15 minutes, here.
One of several cantankerous commenters on the inexplicably contentious Julian Batts post wrote, in the course of his generalized abuse, “Who would ever book you? LOL.” (Those familiar with this forum know it was the “LOL” that got him banned more than the insult). The rhetorical question was also secretly ironic, because I was booked that very day (yesterday) on an early morning talk show, by Arthur King, an occasional commenter here who has me on South Portland, Maine’s WGAN as his guest occasionally.
You can listen to the segmenthere. Much thanks to Arthur, for both a professionally run interview and great timing.