For several months, I’ve heard the legend of Dr Robert ‘Dr Wonderful’ Biter. There’s even an ‘I love Dr Biter’ Facebook group. Being a natural sceptic I reserved judgement until Thursday night, when I volunteered at Mamafest, San Diego. He arrived fashionably late and seized the stage with a powerful, heartfelt address to the mothers and birth aficionados present. And then I saw what the fuss was about. Here was a charismatic man with something deeply important to say and alluding to horrifying oppression.
I don’t want to paraphrase and I didn’t take notes, but the message I received is that birth is sacred: Women have a special and wonderful power in birth. And it is being stolen from them. Dr Biter blamed fear. Fear and anger. Charitably, he didn’t blame greed, but I would guess that greed is the third culprit in this cruel trinity.
Dr Biter’s patients leave dazzling testimonials. He gives them choice in how they give birth. He doesn’t railroad them into unnecessary caesareans or pump them with artificial hormones to force or urge on labour. Others allow fear to overrule choice. Birth cannot be micromanaged and risk can never be erased. Too often, meddling introduces new risk.
Dr Biter gives his patients time and allows their bodies to work. He has never had a malpractice suit against him.
Yet he has now lost his privileges to deliver babies at Scripps Encinitas hospital. This was the reason he was late to Mamafest. He had to meet with lawyers. He truly is being oppressed.
Why? Well, the reason is confidential. But there are many questions. Is it because he doesn’t bring enough revenue in through unnecessary caesareans? Is it that other doctors are losing their patients to ‘Dr Wonderful’? Is it simply that he makes others look bad because he shows faith and confidence in his patients, treating them as intelligent, incredible humans who are capable of birthing their own babies, while others see birth as a process which requires intervention and management to work?
Shinemama has thrown away scepticism because all I heard from Dr Biter was sense. And in the last two days, I have heard he is willing to work unpaid as a doula to his existing clients at another hospital. A doctor working as a doula! Where others would let ego get in the way, this is a man who has put his patients first.
So I joined more than a hundred others outside Scripps Encinitas this Mothers’ Day morning to rally in support. Present were Biter-delivered babies, birth professionals of all stripes and people who recognise injustice.
Scripps Encinitas remain silent.
Support birth choices. Support doctors who support birth choices. Support Dr Biter.