A few hours ago, the following was posted on a forum of Los Angeles birth doulas. Doulas, mind you, not midwives. I wonder why? Is it because I have resumed attempting to work as a doula? I am not a member of the forum but several friends forwarded the message to me.
I really don’t know what to say. So I will just say this: I stand by my version of the story which is found at http://www.supportmidwifekatiemccall.wordpress.com/about
And my response to the widely diverging stories between what is below and court testimony… making me wonder if the email is even authentic: https://supportmidwifekatiemccall.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/a-more-detailed-response/
If you have questions about me, PLEASE ASK ME. I’m an open book. Yet the people who keep vilifying me never speak to me. I feel very sorry for their hearts to be filled with so much hate that they would want to continue to attack me and see me so ruined. I am heartbroken by Elizabeth Bachner (and her “source”) that she would post something of this nature on a large forum without confronting me with it first or even notifying me that it existed. Very painful thing to do to another woman indeed. :*(Everything I stand by is contained in court documents. If anyone wants proof of anything just ask. My hope is that, like me, you are tired of all of this drama and couldn’t care less. I’m too tired to fish through this long message and respond to every point. I’ve been kicked so many times it’s becoming normal. I really would like it to stop. I cannot put words to the grief, pain and devastation this whole five year long ordeal has brought me. And because my only motivation was love and to help, I walk away believing I should have never been so naive as to serve birthing families. Just what we need when there is a shortage of birth workers. May it never happen to another birth student.
I hope that my silence will not cast a shadow on my integrity. I am choosing to not waste time defending myself when I could be spending precious time building up other women.
I received this from a friend who is very involved in the birthing community.
She received it directly from the mother involved with Katie McCall’s case. I
am forwarding it here as information, NOT as a personal opinion nor as gossip,
as I feel it is important for everyone in the community to know about this
letter as we might be hearing about it from clients, friends and colleagues.
I have uploaded the pdf file to the group as well as copying and pasting it
below for convenience.
p.s. the mother has asked for her personal information to be removed from the
original email, that is the only thing that has been edited.
Elizabeth Bachner I Midwife, Acupuncturist & Birthing Coach
1445 N. Gardner Street I Los Angeles, CA 90046 I 310.704.3500 I
> Begin forwarded message:
> From: J(text removed)
> Subject: Katie McCall Case
> Date: June 1, 2012 2:49:37 PM PDT
> To: (text removed)
> Hello (names removed),
> Next week, Katie will face the California Medical Board to regain her license,
and she’s currently appealing her guilty ruling from last year’s trial. Before
she garners more support based on the untrue picture she has created, I wanted
to give you my own words about the case, and have attached a statement that
explains what happened.
> Please feel free to share it as you deem appropriate, or to just use it for
reference if questions arise. My interest isn’t really that it becomes widely
read, but that the information is available for birth professionals and families
who might choose to work with or birth with her in the future.
> I’ve tried to be as clear and concise as possible, but it’s still quite long
because I wanted to cover so many points. As I mentioned before, please do not
attach my name to it in any way.
> If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them. You can contact me
via email or call me at (text removed).
> Thanks, and blessings,
> J(text removed)
Last year, a California court determined that midwife Katie McCall was guilty of
practicing medicine without a license. Following the ruling, Ms. McCall began
circulating a story that painted her as the victim of an overzealous legal
system attempting to restrict homebirth freedoms, and by extension, other
freedoms as well. This story picked up momentum, becoming featured in mainstream
media as well as homebirth and women’s rights blogs. Unfortunately, as the story
spread, its sharers accepted Ms. McCall’s version without question and did not
stop to verify it against the facts of the case.
I was the material witness in this case, the mother whose birth Katie attended.
I am a committed supporter of homebirth, midwifery, and birth choice. My
experience, and the experience of those present with me at the birth, is
dramatically different from the story told by Ms. McCall. I do not have any
reason to be dishonest about this and I don’t intend to profit from the
situation in any way.
It has been several years since this all began. In that time, I have remained
quiet, waiting for Ms. McCall to adopt a posture of humility and assume
responsibility for her actions. She has never done so, and has instead
maintained that she saved our lives and has done nothing wrong. Since she is now
seeking a reinstatement of her license, and has the potential to practice again,
it is time for me to confront these untruths. I hope that my statement will
clear up some of the misconceptions around this case, and I ask that you please
take a moment to hear the facts of the story. What I am sharing is consistent
with court documents and the statements of at least two witnesses, and I hope
will give a more complete account of the actual case.
I also feel great compassion toward Katie. This case has undoubtedly been very
difficult for her and her family, and it must be something that burdens her
daily. I would not wish this situation on anyone, and it has been painful for
everyone involved. Because of this, I feel the most loving and honest thing to
do is to speak the truth.
The details I am sharing with you reflect my initial statement to the California
Medical Board made several years ago, and my testimony in court; my story is
consistent and has not changed. Below, I address the claims surrounding the
case. Some have been made by Katie McCall directly, while others are erroneous
details that have sprung up in the process of supporting her (the claims are in
italics; my responses follow). The statement below is lengthy, but I ask that
you please read it in its entirety in order to fully understand the truth of the
The family involved in the case was happy with the care they received, and are
not the ones who filed the report.
We were not happy with the care we received. Many unprofessional actions were
taken by Ms. McCall, and we failed to put them all together before it was too
late. We trusted her, and regret doing so.
The initial report was filed by an acupuncturist who was present at the birth.
She filed with our complete support and cooperation shortly after the birth. We
chose not to file a report at that time because we wanted to focus on our new
Katie McCall was asked by clients to be their midwife. The exchange was not for
After interviewing several midwives, my husband and I agreed to hire Katie and
pay her asking fee of $1,500, which was explicitly stated in a contract provided
by Ms. McCall. This amount was paid to her in full.
Several statements report that I was a friend. I was a client and did not know
her in any other capacity.
The agreement was that Katie would be hired as a student midwife which would
count toward her training, and she would bring a preceptor (supervising midwife)
to the birth.
This is true and included in the contract. Katie explained that there were three
midwives under whom she worked, and that if one was unavailable for the birth,
the others would be contacted.
At the time of the contract, the preceptor was contacted, and an agreement was
made that she would attend the birth and receive money and sign contracts when
she arrived as she lived farther away than would allow this exchange to happen
ahead of time.
The preceptor was not contacted at the time of the contract. Neither I nor my
husband had any contact with the preceptor prior to the birth, and had no such
arrangement to exchange money with her. We had already paid Katie in the form of
two checks made out in her name, the last of which was paid several weeks before
the birth. Both of these checks were cashed.
The contracts mentioned were signed by my husband and me nearly two months
before the birth. This would have been ample time to mail them to a preceptor
for her signature, which Katie did not do.
Katie McCall was not paid by the clients, or was paid only $200.
Katie was paid in full in advance of the birth, in the amount of $1,500, on the
schedule that she had requested. At one point, she claimed that she had
accidentally ruined one of the checks in the wash, and asked for a replacement.
My husband and I verified through our bank that she had already cashed the
check, and provided her with the tracking number that proved this. She did not
mention it again.
At the time of the birth, the supervising midwife was called, but was
Katie claimed to have called the midwife, but this was never witnessed by
anyone. This midwife was on the witness list and prepared to testify under oath
that she was never called.
The supervising midwife had another mother in labor, and had already committed
to that birth.
Katie did not tell us this during our child’s birth, although she later
testified to it in court. The midwife involved was prepared to testify under
oath that she was not attending another birth, nor had she planned to attend our
birth, nor had she ever heard of us. All of these details were fabricated by Ms.
I later learned that none of the women listed as Katie’s preceptors were even
licensed to practice midwifery in the state of California. This means that even
if Katie had contacted one of them, she would not have fulfilled her commitment
to provide a licensed midwife at the birth.
Other preceptors were called and no other preceptor (supervising midwife) was
No one witnessed Ms. McCall contacting other preceptors, and there is no
evidence that this occurred. No other midwives reported receiving a call.
Katie told one witness present that she called only one midwife, who was unable
to attend because she was home caring for her sick children. Katie stated that
she had a long list of preceptors, but preferred not to call them because she
was confident she could handle the birth herself. According to this witness, Ms.
McCall then put away her list of midwives and made no other attempts to contact
them. My husband and I were not present when this occurred and were not made
aware of this.
One of the three midwives Katie claimed to work with had never supervised Katie
at a birth, and had no arrangement with her to be listed as a preceptor. She has
never been involved with her in any professional capacity.
Out of the 350 births attended up to that point as a doula and as a student,
Katie had never attended a birth without a supervising midwife before.
This is untrue. The birth Katie attended on Tuesday, November 22, just prior to
mine, had no preceptor or licensed midwife present. It was just Katie and the
family. On arrival to my home, she told everyone present that she had just
delivered the baby and repaired a perineal tear alone, and the mother later
confirmed that this had been the case.
Another couple who had Katie at their birth without a preceptor, in which the
mother and baby experienced complications, were scheduled to testify at the
trial as well. It has happened at least two other times. These women have not
yet come forward to discuss their experiences. My hope is that at some point
The client was told that there was not a midwife available and that she should
transfer to the hospital.
This is false. We were not told that a midwife would not be present, and were
led to believe that everything was being handled as agreed upon.
This is the most striking claim made by Ms. McCall, and one that was not
generated until well after the birth. When I arrived to testify at the trial, I
expected that our experiences might differ slightly with regard to some details,
but that much of our testimonies would be congruent. I was stunned when the
informed me of Katie’s defense: that on arrival to our birth, she had told us no
midwife would be attending and that we should transfer. This never happened. At
no point in the labor or post-birth period did Ms. McCall recommend a transfer.
Three witnesses corroborate this and testified to it in court under oath.
If Ms. McCall had recommended a transfer, we would have transferred. This is
especially true of my husband, who would have been entirely uncomfortable
without a properly qualified midwife, and would have insisted on going to the
Katie looked on during the labor and was minimally involved, not wanting to
practice midwifery without a license.
Katie performed multiple functions of a midwife throughout the labor and birth,
including cervical checks, doppler readings, administering pitocin, and suturing
perineal tears. Never did she express any reticence to me or my husband about
serving in this capacity because of the lack of supervising midwife.
When Katie recommended a transfer, the client refused to transfer to the
I did not refuse to transfer. A transfer was never recommended. If a transfer
had been recommended for any legitimate reason, I would have transferred.
The clients requested that Katie stay with them despite the recommendation to
We made no such request, assuming that Katie would be attending the birth as
Katie’s statements give the impression that this all happened very quickly,
which was not the case. She became aware of my labor two days before the actual
birth, giving her ample time to contact a supervising midwife or other licensed
birth professional. Once at my home, she was present there for over 10 hours.
During that time, if she had assessed that none of her preceptors would be
available, she could have explained this to us and given us the option of
transferring or contacting a midwife outside of her preceptor list; she did not.
Katie was not present when the baby crowned and the head was born.
Katie was present through the pushing and crowning phase, also providing
perineal support as the baby’s head emerged and pulling on the head as it was
The birth resulted in a shoulder dystocia and a subsequent severe postpartum
hemorrhage. Katie treated these conditions and saved the life of the mother and
The diagnosis of shoulder dystocia is highly questionable, since some of the
obvious warning signs were not present. The diagnosis was also not confirmed by
a medical professional. Katie initially treated this suspected issue with
techniques contra-indicated for the condition, such as pulling on the baby’s
head when it emerged and failing to wait for the next imminent contraction to
birth the baby’s shoulders and body.
It is likely that Katie contributed to or directly caused the postpartum
hemorrhage by removing the placenta prematurely, with ungloved hands. After this
occurred, I began to hemorrhage severely. The extensive bleeding was largely
ignored by Ms. McCall until it became potentially life-threatening. She did not
treat it immediately as has been suggested. Instead, she did not attempt to
treat the bleeding until the acupuncturist who was present expressed distress
over my appearance. The hemorrhage was initially stopped by myself and the
witness present, and again when I began to bleed minutes later. After the
bleeding resumed the second time, Ms. McCall administered a shot of pitocin.
Ms. McCall eventually called an ambulance and the patient transferred after the
Katie never called an ambulance or any other medical support personnel, nor did
she instruct anyone else to do so. Earlier in the birth, Katie had requested the
presence of a woman who was considering becoming a doula to provide labor
support under Katie. She had worked as an EMT but did not serve in this capacity
or provide medical assistance at the birth.
Despite heavy blood loss and a severe perineal tear, Katie did not recommend
that we transfer to a hospital for treatment. She instead chose to suture the
tear herself, which later led to serious complications. At no point did she
suggest that she was unqualified to perform these maneuvers, and at no point did
she recommend a
hospital transfer after the birth. If my husband and I had been made aware of
the severity of these injuries, we would have sought medical help immediately.
Katie respected the rights of the birthing couple and honored their choice not
This was never our choice to make, since she did not recommend a transfer or
give us a true appraisal of the situation. Our options were limited rather than
respected because of Ms. McCall’s actions.
This is a victimless crime. The mom and the baby were healthy and were not
involved in the case.
Both my child and I were injured as a result of our treatment at the birth.
Our family is involved in this case. We traveled to a state that has no
jurisdiction over us, and testified when we had no legal obligation to do so. We
have no intention of filing a civil case, and therefore no potential financial
gain. I am legally entitled to damages, which amount to many thousands of
dollars, but I am not seeking them. I also have grounds to sue Katie McCall for
both fraud and breach of contract, but have not done so. I have nothing to gain
from this. Testifying was humiliating and a tremendous invasion of our family’s
privacy. In spite of all this, we feel strongly about speaking the truth, and
chose to be involved.
Ms. McCall was reported to the Medical Board by a doula at the prompting of two
Katie was reported by an acupuncturist who was present at the birth, not a
The acupuncturist’s acquaintance with “two midwives” had nothing to do with her
desire to file a report. After deciding to file, the acupuncturist briefly
consulted her own midwife to ask which governing board should be contacted. She
did not speak with any other midwives.
Midwives threatened the doula’s [acupuncturist’s] career or pressured her in
some way in order to convince her to file.
The acupuncturist present at the birth lives in a completely different state
from the midwife she initially consulted, and she was in no way under someone’s
influence or at risk of having her career threatened by not filing this report.
She has not worked for any midwives in any capacity before, during, or since
Further, when she filed the report, she believed she was reporting a licensed
midwife for gross negligence. She did not realize Ms. McCall was unlicensed, and
learned this only after filing the report.
This woman’s integrity has been maligned in a number of forums, and this is not
only unfair, but unrepresentative of who she is as a person. She has maintained
the highest professional and ethical standards throughout her career and the
trial process, and was named an “expert witness” due to her training and
expertise. She is also a home birthing mother herself. After witnessing the
irresponsible and unethical conduct of Ms. McCall, and knowing the danger she
might pose to future clients, she decided to alert someone. Her desire in filing
was to maintain the high standards set by the midwifery profession, and to
protect other families from similar treatment.
The acupuncturist filed the report and became involved in the subsequent trial
at great personal and emotional expense, and has nothing to gain from her
involvement. Anyone familiar with the rigors of the trial process will realize
that it doesn’t make sense to leave her own young child, travel across the
country, testify and be cross examined, and expose herself to public scrutiny
without an excellent reason. She wanted to protect birthing women, and had a
personal and professional obligation to do so.
The following details may be absent from trial or court records, but I would
like to address them here:
After this incident, Ms. McCall eventually received her license and became a
fully certified midwife.
She received her license only because of a clerical error on the part of the
California Medical Board, which failed to properly search for her name (using
“Katie McCall” instead of “Katherine McCall”) during the licensing process. As a
result, they did not see the complaint filed against her or the investigation
which was in process. Katie McCall would not have been licensed had this error
Katie McCall refused to take a plea deal for a lesser charge.
Although Ms. McCall initially refused to plead guilty to a lesser charge in
exchange for leniency, this was not the case once the trial was underway.
Following the testimony of me and my husband, she and her attorney
sought a plea from the District Attorney who was prosecuting the case. At that
point it had become evident that her testimony was not the truth and that a
guilty verdict was likely. The DA refused the plea.
This case threatens doulas and laypeople who attend births. Midwives can be
charged with a felony for palpating a belly or taking blood pressure.
This is not an issue, unless those in attendance are hired specifically to
provide midwifery services and fail to do so. Laypeople are protected under good
samaritan laws and would not be subject to this sort of prosecution. Katie
McCall was not convicted of a felony for palpating a belly or taking blood
pressure. She was convicted for gross negligence, dishonesty, and
life-threatening actions at a birth, and for practicing medicine without a
license. These concerns are built on details that are simply not true.
This is all about the right to birth at home.
This is about one person who accepted money for a birth for which she claimed
there would be a preceptor, and never asked a preceptor to be present. She has
attended at least three births in this manner without a preceptor present. At no
time did she recommend a transfer, and at no time did I refuse to transfer. When
complications arose, Ms. McCall managed them poorly instead of recommending
transfer to a hospital for treatment. This is not about the right to birth at
home. This is about holding an individual accountable for her actions, and
preventing her from inflicting similar or worse treatment on others.
These stories are simply too different to be reconciled to each other; one of us
is speaking the truth, one is not. One of us gains nothing from lying, has no
motivation to do so, and has not sought publicity from the case in any way. The
other has everything to lose, and spent the trial and its aftermath scrambling
to change the story, to generate support under false pretenses, and to save her
It is tempting to curve this into an ideological battle to support our right to
birth at home (or wherever we desire). This right should be upheld and supported
by men and women all over our country without reservation. However, this case is
a poor example; it isn’t about our rights as home birthing parents. It is about
a woman who acted far beyond the boundaries of her training and the desires of
birthing parents, whose actions resulted in serious complications, and who then
proceeded to lie in court, and to all of you. It is about preserving the
integrity of midwifery, and protecting families from negligent practitioners.
Please distribute this statement in full as you see fit. My only request is that
readers respect my desire for privacy in this issue. Our family has already been
through so much, in a very public way, and so we now ask that our privacy be
maintained. Thank you.