Medical Stalker Goes Way too Far

Many people in the natural birth advocacy realm are aware of “Dr. Amy” and her polemic blog.  I was distressed to see that in addition to pillaging the homebirth and unassisted childbirth forums at Mothering on a regular basis, she is now stalking the birth trauma forum there!  If you’re interested to read her post, you’ll have to search for it yourself.  I am not going to directly link to her site.

My concerns over this behavior include:

  1. Did she get approval from these people to use her comments?  I would venture to say no.  It is one thing to directly quote from a public blog where the intent is PUBLISHING (with a link back, of course) and a whole other thing to directly quote people who are gathered together in support around a sensitive topic.  This would be more than bad netiquette.
  2. Her reason for being at the birth trauma forum – I have yet to read anything unique at her blog.  I have seen her quote and give “statistics” (laughable) based on posts at the homebirth and UC forums at Mothering and thought that was pretty low.  And now she’s raiding the birth trauma forum to gather content for her blog?
  3. Her lack of sensitivity and understanding as demonstrated by the quotes she selected for her blog
  4. The lack of privacy and sacred space that moms who are recovering from birth trauma need and deserve

I sent a private message to the birth trauma moderator.  Here’s what I sent:

“Dr. Amy” is stalking the birth trauma forum – [I removed the post link here b/c I don’t want to directly drive traffic to her site.] Perhaps this should be a private forum? It’s bad enough that she posts every dramatic thing from the homebirth and UC forums on her blog, but really I think she has gone too far. I really hope that the Mothering Forum Moderators will take this concern under advisement and develop a strategy to better protect moms who need a place to commune and don’t deserve to have their stories exploited.

I hope that interested parties will voice their opinions at the Mothering Dot Commune site or to other responsible parties at Mothering.  Additionally, I hope that people will turn to more private venues such as the private forums at the International Cesarean Awareness Network website or private support lists on Google Groups or Yahoo Groups.  These women have been through so much.  They don’t deserve to have their stories exploited even though they are posting on a public forum.

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21 thoughts on “Medical Stalker Goes Way too Far

  1. Ugh. That woman makes me sick. I really hope Mothering does something because that’s just plain wrong. ‘Dr. Amy’ really does have some kind of axe to grind. Why is she so hateful towards natural birth community? Or better yet, why is she so hateful towards others who simply question routine obstetrical practice? I don’t get it.

  2. Thanks Michelle for your comment. Her hate for homebirth and unassisted birth doesn’t seem to come from an authentic or caring place. It’s quite inflammatory and at the same time antiseptic. I’m not sure if she really BELIEVES what she spews or merely does it to subvert an already subverted population (women) or just to screw with people and instill fear of the awesome things the body can do… was designed to do…

    She’s clearly trying to do damage to the natural birth movement. She only has power if we give her power or if we don’t match her power. Ya know!?!

  3. Michele,

    My personal belief is that she feels big by making others feel small. If you look at what she says on her “debate” blog, any argument (that happens not to be deleted) that she has a tough time answering, she’ll pull out the “I’m a doctor and you’re not therefore you’re dumb and can’t question me” routine. She’s hateful (or at least always sounds so arrogant) towards anybody who doesn’t agree with her — I’ve seen some comments she’s posted on other non-birth-related blogs and articles, and it’s the same kind of thing. The only thing is, the ones I’ve seen were frequented by other doctors, and they said things like questioning her sanity and saying she was ignorant. She didn’t have much rebuttal to that, because she couldn’t pull out the handy-dandy, “I’m a doctor and you’re not,” because they were doctors as well. And, yes, she does have an axe to grind towards home-birthers. My introduction to her blog was soon after my son was born in late 2004, and she told the story of how she (I think she was the doctor, but it’s possible that she was quoting another OB’s story) was on-call at the hospital when a woman transferred from a planned home-birth. It wasn’t an “emergency” transfer, as in absent fetal heartbeat, and I forget the reason why the parents went in the first place. But the midwife continued to attend the woman, and apparently tried to talk her out of the intervention(s) suggested by the OB, as if the midwife knew more than the OB. Undoubtedly, that would get under the skin of someone who makes six figures per year, doncha think?

    Kimberly, Dr. Amy doesn’t believe in birth trauma. I read something that apparently was posted some time ago on NavelGazing Midwife’s blog (I know I’ve got the link to it somewhere on my blog — probably under a title like “Dr. Amy & Birth Trauma” if you want to look at it), in which NGM took her to task for her “women shouldn’t care what happens to them during birth as long as they have a healthy baby at the end of it” attitude, and frank denial of trauma processed at the level of rape in birth. Ugh.

  4. I have only briefly read her blog, and it is just awful. She goes on and on about unassisted birth, as if she really thinks she understands it. She obviously doesn’t. All her opinions about going unassisted that I have read totally clashed with my own experience and thoughts on it. I don’t really know what she gets out of spouting all this hate?

    Anyhow, just came across your blog (Google Reader recommended it to me)! Looks like you’ve got great stuff 🙂

  5. Kim, thank you for bringing this up. I went to “Doctor” Amy’s blog during my third pregnancy. I can’t remember if it was purposeful or by accident–too many are drawn in thinking a blog named “home birth debate” might actually be just that–a debate. It isn’t even close. It only took once to see this was not a place of peace or compassion. It made me sick to read the things she would say and the fun she poked at families who chose a comfortable birth place. I’m so glad she’s no longer an OB and “caring” for pregnant women. And I’m still tremendously thankful for our homebirth (after two cesareans) this year. Good thing I didn’t take her advice and birth in a fear-filled hospital where I would have, most definitely, been sliced open yet again for no particular reason.

    I’m not surprised at all that she’s now stalking the birth trauma forums. I plan to write a letter to the MDC admins as well. Thanks again!

  6. Kathy, someone else said the same thing about her not believing in birth trauma. Or that it only happens to women who have been sexually abused. I can’t verify that, but it was an interesting thing to hear from someone whose opinion I trust.

    Shaye, I was dissatisfied with the response I got from the MDC moderator. I guess I will have to go higher up the food chain. The response I received was in the vein of… she’s been doing this for a long time… we can’t make every forum private… basically, it doesn’t change anything for them. “They” can’t seem to figure out how to deal with her. I have my ideas, so I will send them up to the top if I have to. First and foremost they need to define their intellectual property. Who owns what in that public forum. Additionally, they could also have a statement that anyone who wishes to publish comments from the forum needs to receive permission from the person(s) being quoted.

    Thank you all for your comments. Please do make others aware of these problems. Please write the Mothering Dot Commune admins and ask them to put protections in place especially with regard to netiquette and intellectual property rights. And please encourage your friends and loved ones to find a more secure internet space to receive on-line support for birth trauma.

  7. Lovely, the administrator at MDC removed the thread that I started to bring awareness about Dr Amy exploiting the birth trauma area and posted this in its place:

    “WARNING: Medical “stalker”” Removed

    I am sorry but I have removed the thread titled. “WARNING: Medical “stalker””

    MDC will not host any threads which direct traffic to malicious sites that are exploiting the pain of others for their own gain.

    Have a lovely day.

    Now I’m pissed. I didn’t have a link to her site up there. Did they even READ it??

  8. 😦 I’m just not surprised. She has gotten my blog twice in the past ( my other midwifery one that is no longer up )…and the last time drove her followers to my page to pick apart my cesarean story, and call me a liar. There was no way my son ended up in the NICU *because* of a cesarean, right?

    It goes too far. Do these people not have anything to do in their lives?

  9. Ugh, you made me go look!

    My first thought was “She’s acknowledging birth trauma.” It’s a positive! But it’s just a nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah at people who encourage unmedicated births as best for mom and baby. Like “See, they tried it and they didn’t like it; ergo, you’re all stupid.”

    I’m sure Mothering knows she’s there. They can see her IP address. It’s doubtful that she’s the only troll—she’s just the only one that openly taunts other women about their experiences.

    Women make the choice to post their experiences on a public forum. It makes them susceptible to criticism, even the creepy kind. Maybe the families that post understand that their words might be quoted and tweaked and they don’t mind?

  10. I cannot believe that this woman can just pull posts from MDC as she sees fit and then repost them on her own blog. Mothering has to do something about this. I am sorry, I know it is a public forum but don’t people have a right to post something and then have it kept in that setting?

    I have to be honest, after seeing “Dr. Amy’s” site, I doubt that I’ll do much posting at MDC. It is just not safe.

  11. Well, once something is on the internet it’s “out” so it’s tough to say, “I’ll post this, but it stops here” when it’s on a public forum.

    And she consistently lies or misconstrues things — the last time somebody on her blog linked to me, she followed it up by saying that I constantly complain about not being able to understand her; the reality is, I *never* do that — instead, I say that I understand her only too well, just happen to disagree with her. She can’t see the difference. Numerous times, I’ve caught her in similar misstatements — usually she’ll pick out a word or phrase or sentence from a larger work and throw that out as if it were a summation of the entire article or post, and then pick it apart to prove how smart she is and how dumb those who disagree with her are… but then when you read the whole comment or article or study, you realize what she’s done. Deliberately. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t believe her if she said the sun was shining outside without further proof. Always go to the source (if you can find it) if she says anything.

    Jill mentioned an IP address — perhaps it could be blocked? Or would that just block her from posting, but not from looking?

  12. she doesn’t post so they can’t block her IP, and do you know how much lawyers cost?

    yes, she sucks, yes, she’s evil, but getting pissed at MDC because they can’t stop her is misdirected.

  13. When you post something on the internet, even on a private board, there is no law to prevent that from being reposted. Every line you write and every picture you post is essentially fair game as soon as you hit “Publish”. None of the cases that have gone to court (at the cost of thousands of dollars to the plaintiff) has ever resulted in a judgment against someone who has copied and pasted.

    Intellectual property only extends to things like songs, original artwork and novels. Message board posts and even blogs can be copied in whole or in part without recourse.

  14. I thought about this more today. Here’s the flip-side. A doctor starts a blog and starts ranting about his annoying patients. “WTF is wrong with all of these women who won’t just get an epidural?! They’re noisy. They’re needy! They’re ANNOYING! I can’t see the baby crowning because they’re squatting in the dark corner of the room listening to Enya. And who the hell is in their entourage… a doooluh? What’s that?”

    It would be right out there on the Internet for all of us to grab and paste.

    I bet she doesn’t want to be exploiting and mocking other people’s pain but feels she needs to because it furthers her cause.

    But in the post you’re referring to, Dr. Amy isn’t mocking the women who experienced pain in labor… she’s slamming Mothering and mocking what in her mind is the guilt-inducing natural childbirth movement.

  15. Jill,

    I agree. I read the post and the subsequent comments as an indictment of people who assume that all birth trauma stems from unwanted inventions, and that natural/home/unassisted births are a way to prevent that trauma. If you read the comments, you’ll see that there are many homebirthing and UCing women saying even there that yes, they found their births traumatic despite doing it the “right” (according to Mothering) way.

    I do think there is merit to having that discussion. You can see by reading the referenced thread at Mothering that many of these women felt ashamed and afraid to say that they were traumatized by natural childbirth. They were afraid of Mothering’s own “tribe” being the ones to sneer at them. And they were right, as someone did show up to say they weren’t qualified to speak about their own traumas, they must really be traumatized by something else because non-interventionist birth cannot be traumatic (the post was removed by the moderator).

    I have a friend that is active with ICAN, and she has spoken to me at length about feeling pressured a bit. She feels like she will be ridiculed for anything that does not “toe the party line” so to speak. There is work to be done on both sides of this particular fence.

  16. Amanda, just because these cases aren’t successful in court doesn’t relieve responsibility. For instance, a simple search on “intellectual property” internet on google revealed some good information on what is protected. I would have to go to MDC and see what their disclaimers are in terms of responsibility to their online community and IP copyright. Regardless, my original ideas ARE protected by law. How I wish to have direct quotes taken from this blog, for instance, is made clear by the CA 3.0 designation in a text box on the left side of my template. Regardless, it is bad netiquette, and a doctor (who knows research protocol) knows better. I am an academic researcher and would never directly quote someone without permission. In fact, my research (no matter where/how I collect the information) is governed strictly by human subjects protection and institutional review protocols. Again, my point is that she should know better. Even if I agreed with her perspective, which is not the point, I would still be concerned.

    I agree that there is work to be done on both sides of the fence. There are vigilantes on both sides of the spectrum that do a disservice to their communities. I have never agreed with the pressuring tactics I have observed on the ICAN yahoo group. However, ICAN now hosts their own forums which means that they are taking responsibility for the tone and temper of the forum community. That sounds more heavy-handed than it really is over there. I mean it as a good thing. ICAN is responsible for serving, through their mission statement, a very WIDE audience – natural birthers, cesarean recoverees, repeat cesarean moms, etc. It can’t all be about pushing VBAC or HBAC on people. And the leadership knows that and is on the same page, I think.

    I’m not sure that Mothering has quite the same need to be tolerant of widely contrasting mothering styles. They have a target audience that is comprised more uniformly of attachment parenting, natural parenting, natural childbirth, naturopathic over allopathic care, etc. It would be downright silly for me to join a community at (I’m making that up) and expected people to tolerate my wacked out ideas about VBAC, HBAC, and natural childbirth.

    On the other hand, women who have not experienced a traumatic birth, need to come to terms with the fact that cesareans aren’t always perceived as traumatic. Some women find them peaceful, and clean, and easy. Natural births are not always calm, sublime, and blissful. I know plenty of women who really struggled after their “triumphant” HBAC or VBAC. It takes us by surprise. I’m glad that more women are speaking out – particularly in ICAN – about traumatic birth. I’m glad that MDC has a forum for birth trauma, and I’m sure the moms that participate there are glad to have built a community there. The “well, it’s a public forum” thing sidelines the important issues at stake here.

    Thank you all for your contributions to the discussion.

  17. Yeah, I have to fight the tendency to play down my second birth, which was far from empowering. To many, I ought to have had the most wonderful and empowering birth experience, since it ended up being unassisted — not planned that way, but my contractions were so widely spaced that I never called the midwife until it was too late. Reading some women’s birth stories or their “dream births” is amusing to me, because they talk about it as being them by themselves without even their husbands or anyone around, and I’ve experienced that, and found it to be not an experience I would like to repeat. But I say, “to each her own.” But I do feel pressure (it may just be totally internal, not wanting to hurt other people’s feelings or tread on their toes) to keep my reservations to myself on certain forums. But I usually speak, because it is *my* experience, and perhaps hearing my story will make others feel better or may give them knowledge to avoid some pitfall in their upcoming birth. Also, hearing only one side of the story may make people feel disoriented in labor when their birth doesn’t happen exactly the way they planned, imagined, or dreamed it would be — I don’t want them to panic and make matters worse (“Oh, I’m feeling pain, and planned to have an painless, orgasmic birth! Something’s wrong! I’ve gotta go to the hospital!!” sort of thing).

    [stopping before I say too much and talk too long!] 🙂

  18. I just wanted to update you all. It looks as though the attacks on MDC continue. I have been in conversation with a wonderful MDC administrator about this specific situation. I am confident that Mothering can and will take steps to protect the intellectual property of its forum participants.

    I keep meaning to do a post on internet copyright… the very little that I know about it. Hmm… maybe I can attend over this lovely Thanksgiving break.

    Peace and joy to you all!

  19. (Not even a real Dr.) Amy is a complete douche-hammer.
    I know that MDC cant do anything really about that woman for a few reasons, first of all they dont own the material that she is copying and pasting… the women who wrote it do. They would all have to get together and bring something against her for what she is doing…

    But I wish there was something that could be done. Mostly I wish her internet service provider would just refuse to give her internet.. but thats just me. 😉

    Thanks for the comment. I love your blog.

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