The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Anesthetized women look so vulnerable

Another Amy posted a link on a homebirth debate blog today that is shocking and worth sharing here --- gyn.html. I just had to include a picture from that cute little book, The Adventures of Motherhood from the early sixties the era of brainwashing women to "trust only men, medicine and hospitals." Together the narrative and pictures tell the story -- of the socially and politically sanctioned violence by the male dominated obstetrics on womens' bodies that I wrote about earlier. and

Many physicians -- even females -- can not acknowledge that women can experience violation and feelings similar to being raped during hospital birth. Here we have an male physician describing graphically that it certainly does happen and how. Check out the appendixes. It is good to remind readers here of the new scientific findings that explain how it is that the body remembers everything, even when the body is drugged.

The following article brings up many things to think about --- the state of medical education, the history and truth of informed consent, the use of drugs in birth, and how the body remembers everything and how these "unconscious memories" get acted out in other situations.

Heart Failure - Miscarriage of Justice

by Michael Greger, MD and United Progressive Alumni
[ Medical School Resources Appendices Discussion ]

Miscarriage of Justice

Back in the hole. First day and furious at the garbage they're teaching. "All postmenopausal women must be on hormone replacement. It's imperative. They're crazy if they're not." What a coincidence, lunch brought to us by Premarin*. Grand rounds or infomercial?

* Premarin is a brand name of "hormone replacement therapy." It is now one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. Premarin is inhumanely derived from the urine of confined and catheterized pregnant mares.

Appendix 48 documents some of the industry's hormone marketing tactics.

"Anesthetized women look so vulnerable."[119]

I am all gloved up, fifth in line. At Tufts, medical students - particularly male students - practice pelvic exams on anesthetized women without their consent and without their knowledge. Women come in for surgery and, once they're asleep, we all gather around; line forms to the left.

In the medical ethics literature this practice has been called, "an outrageous assault upon the dignity and autonomy of the patient...."[120] "The practice shows a lack of respect for these patients as persons, revealing a moral insensitivity and a misuse of power."[121] "It is just another example of the way in which physicians abuse their power and have shown themselves unwilling to police themselves in matters of ethics, especially with regard to female patients."[122]

We learn more than examination skills. Taking advantage of the woman's vulnerability - as she lay naked on a table unconscious - we learn that patients are tools to exploit for our education.

It all started on the first day when the clerkship director described that we were to gain valuable experience doing pelvic exams on women in the operating room. I asked him if the women knew what we were doing. Are the women asked permission? "No," he said. And not only no, he described that he was, "ethically comfortable with that." I did some reading.

Massachusetts state law reads: "Every patient... has the right... to refuse to be examined... by students... and to refuse any care or examination when the primary purpose is educational or informational rather than therapeutic."[123] Yes, the right to refuse, but what if the patient doesn't even know? Was the director's attitude what-she-doesn't-know-can't-hurt-her? The confrontation continued.

He countered, "These women sign off that right to refuse on their surgical consent form." Having long learned a healthy skepticism about the pronouncements of authority, I got a copy of the form. The only mention of students reads as follows: "I am aware that occasionally there may be visiting surgeons/ healthcare professionals/ students observing techniques." Observing? We were going to be doing a lot more than observing. I went back to talk to him.

"Women are smart," he told me. "They know that when it says a student observes, that the student will be participating in the procedures." My eyes widened. And anyway, I was told, "Most women wouldn't mind." My jaw dropped. And, "Why are you so sensitive?"

I was just stunned, a stranger in a strange land. I was reminded of the summer I spent in Louisiana, where I had a debate with an orthopedic surgeon over whether or not the abolishment of slavery was really a good thing. "Now just think about it," I was admonished. What do you even say? How do you even respond?

So if the patients already secretly know and wouldn't mind regardless, then surely the course director wouldn't mind me wasting my breath to ask the women permission. (For that matter, he shouldn't mind a quick letter to the Boston Globe either.) No, I was told initially, I am not to ask women permission to use them - their bodies - for our education. I shouldn't let them know. Why? "We would just confuse the patients," he said. "You don't ask permission for male genital exams, do you?" I was asked. "We don't get them to sign permission for every little detail?"

John M. Smith, in Women and Doctors writes, "Many doctors regularly abuse women as a result of underlying prejudice and self-deception."[124][125]

"It is grossly unjust to exploit the vulnerable."[126]

Maybe the women wouldn't mind not being asked. After all, he is a doctor. I went back to the library. Sixty-nine women were asked in a British survey whether they thought permission should be specifically sought for students doing pelvic exams in the operating room. One hundred percent said yes; they all thought that specific permission should be sought.[127] A Swedish study found that 90% of gynecologic patients "would feel aggrieved if they discovered that they had participated in [any kind of] clinical training without first having been informed or given the opportunity of declining."[128] And of course, "Express consent does not mean a signature on a piece of paper... [it means] the patient must understand the general nature of the procedure - that is, that she is being used for teaching."[129]

I brought this to the director's attention. I gave him a copy of the British study. He dismissed it; how could I possibly extrapolate data from a British low income clinic to our population? Again, speechless. Even if the data were two orders of magnitude off and only one out of a hundred would mind not being asked, shouldn't that be enough?

The practice may even put the school and hospital in legal jeopardy - battery, professional misconduct, perhaps even aggravated sexual assault. Maybe I should just walk out of the OR and call the police. As written in a British Sunday Times article, "There is nothing to stop a woman bringing a legal action of assault. The only reason no one has done it is because they don't know what's going on."[130] The attending assured me they had thought of that too. "It's been past the risk analysis committee," he told me as he patted my shoulder, "there's nothing to worry about." At that point I gave up.

Appendix 49 ( offers some perspective on this outrageous practice.

No comments:

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth