If you have seen Ricki Lake’s documentary The Business Of Being Born, you may be familiar with midwife Cara Muhlhahn. She was also the subject of New York magazine’s 2009 article, Extreme Birth, and is now suing the publication for $1 million for libel, while she herself is being sued for malpractice over a stillborn birth. Let’s take a look at these two cases:
Case against New York mag: The New York article was focused on the risks of at home pregnancies. It stated that Cara “regularly does vaginal births after C-section at home and has even home-delivered the riskiest births, breeches, and twins,” which is not generally accepted practice for home births and she did not have a practice agreement with a physician for emergency backup. She had told patients she worked with the now closed St. Vincent’s hospital, but their staff said she would merely “dump” her patients there and that they were often “train wrecks.” There was also an example included about Cara’s patient Sandra Garcia, who after 72 hours of painful labor wound in the hospital with a C-section, an infection, and her baby in Neonatal Intensive Care for five days.
Cara states that the article” “contained statements that were fabricated or based on unverified sources,” stemming from “actual malice,” and that it “set forth statements so inherently improbably that only a reckless person would have published them.” New York has filed a motion to dismiss the claim, saying that Cara “mistakes, as defamation, divergent opinion in medical controversy… She also disregards that she has admitted many of those alleged ‘facts’ in her own voice, recorded or written.”
Case against Cara: Cara’s former patients Catherine and Ricardo filed a malpractice suit after their baby was stillborn. They charge that Cara and her two associates were “grossly negligent” by not referring her to a doctor sooner and lacking a practice agreement with one, which was the law at the time.
This is the second malpractice suit against Cara. She settled in 2003 when a delivered a partially paralyzed baby. Chances are she will lose both of the above cases.