I found the recording of a meeting of utah midwives after the preventable death of a baby at the hands of a serially negligent midwife (Valerie El Halta). This post aims to summarize the meeting (click this link to listen). I have it saved on my computer if they decide to delete it. Descriptions of the meeting are in bold, my commentary is in normal text.
The first 6 minutes is murmuring and obviously not the meeting itself. You can skip it.
Tara Tulley leads the meeting with a statement, and stresses repeatedly that the meeting is being recorded and the media might get their hands on the tape because it will be posted online later. She starts the meeting by talking about how she doesn’t want to discuss the charges against the midwife, just how she wants to gear up the community to prevent any legislation from restricting a midwifes ‘freedom’ to practice without any licensing.
When a preventable death occurs in a hospital, there is usually a case review where people get together to try and figure out what they can do to prevent it next time. Here we see midwives behaving as the opposite of medical professionals, as these midwives are only seeking to defend their income source. This has nothing to do with the freedom to birth at home, because women are free to do that in many other states that require licenses for midwives (meaning every state except for Utah). It is about the freedom of midwives (sometimes self proclaimed, under qualified midwives) to conduct births however they please without having to face any consequences for the outcomes.
Around 13 minutes Tara says she wants a midwives organization to exist so that they can ‘develop standards of practice’. She wants to be able to say “look we are organized and have a standard of practice” when legislators come after midwives the next time a baby dies or is permanently injured.
The unstated assumption is that all these midwives know that another midwife is going to kill someone negligently, so they need to be prepared when it happens again. Tara stresses how important this is to unlicensed midwives, how important it is to ‘keep that option open’. I’m sure reckless people would very much enjoy keeping an option open that would let them do whatever they want to.
Around 17 minutes in she discusses ‘relative conformity’, meaning that they need a standard that most people can agree on but that midwives don’t actually have to adhere to 100%.
This is the opposite of an effective standard of practice.
An un-named midwife comes up and says “the frustration is that when one midwife chooses to do something, we all pay for it.” She discusses being upset at midwives who have bad outcomes. “How do we open our hearts and say: I do love you, even though you are hurting us.”
I cannot understand why anyone would need to profess their love for Teresa El Halta just because they work in the same profession. The woman is a reckless killer who has wronged countless people over the years. She has a pattern of using interventions that she is completely unqualified and untrained in, as well as doing forced vaginal exams and procedures all while taking on extremely high risk cases. Then she moves to a new state when she gets in trouble.
Tara agrees and with the “open our hearts” comment, then talks about how important it is to manage public perspective on “events like these” (meaning the needless death of an innocent baby).
They are clearly more worried about appearing a certain way that actually preventing future deaths. El Halta would not have been able to become a licensed midwive in Utah because she had her NARM certification revoked. That can only happen if two separate people manage to file complaints against a single midwife. NARM gives grieving mothers the run around, so it is really a testament to how terrible she was at her job that NARM formally revoked her midwifery certificate.
These midwives, who are supposed to uphold the well being of infants and pregnant women, don’t want anyone to hold them legally accountable for what they choose to do. They want the appearance of accountability by having their own group, but they are not capable of meaningful legal action. Don’t be fooled by any by laws or standards of practice that are demonstrated by UMO- they don’t mean anything when there isn’t a real consequence for violating the rules. Getting kicked out of UMO would not make someone unable to practice in the state, so what good would it do for patients? None, really. It benefits midwives exclusively.
This entire meeting I just want to scream:
A BABY WAS KILLED.
A BABY WAS KILLED BY A MIDWIFE.
AND YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT KEEPING THINGS THE SAME?
No normal person reacts to the death of a baby this way. I don’t know what is wrong with these women, but they should not be tasked with governing themselves. Stay tuned for part two later this week.