West Virginia Anti-Choice Doctor’s Complaint Against Nurse-Midwife Is Dismissed


Click here for all our coverage of Dr. Byron Calhoun.

A complaint from a doctor and anti-choice advocate against a West Virginia nurse-midwife has been dismissed by the state’s nursing board.

As the Charleston Gazette reports, Dr. Byron Calhoun, in a letter originally sent to the West Virginia attorney general in July, claimed that nurse-midwife Angelita Nixon was unable to care for a patient who wanted to have a home birth but who needed to be transferred to a hospital for an emergency cesarean section; he also noted in the letter that Nixon had no backup nurse available. Calhoun demanded that criminal charges be brought against Nixon and that her nursing license be revoked. Nixon’s patient, Sarah Brown, refuted the charges, telling the Gazette that “[Nixon] provided excellent care” and that Calhoun would have reached the same conclusion if he had “consulted with [Nixon] or me about my care, or taken the time to review my medical record.”

The Gazette reports that the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses has now informed Calhoun that it will not take any action against Nixon. Complaints about nurse-midwives usually go through the state nursing board, and not the AG’s office. In West Virginia, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has a history of targeting abortion providers. RH Reality Check reported earlier this year that Morrisey had launched an investigation into the state’s reproductive health-care facilities.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of reproductive rights group WV Free, told the Gazette that Calhoun has “a very rigid perspective about what women’s health care should and shouldn’t be” and “attacks” other providers approach to medicine that do not conform to his ideology.

Calhoun is National Medical Advisor for the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an anti-choice organization that, according to its website, “provides life-affirming PRCs [pregnancy resource centers] with legal counsel, education, and training.” The taxpayer-funded crisis pregnancy centers to which NIFLA provides legal support have been known to spread false and misleading information about abortion.

Nixon’s lawyer, Frank Hartman, told the Gazette that his client was pleased with the outcome but that they would be exploring further legal options. He said Calhoun’s letter was “malicious and contained information he knew, or should have known, to be false” and that they “intend to right that wrong.”

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  • Chris Ranmore

    In the Britain this doctor’s actions would be considered bringing the profession into disrepute and he would probably be disciplined by the British Medical Association. What are the options in the US?

  • Sarah Morison

    I don’t understand why Calhoun was complaining about the midwife. Was she affiliated with a prochoice group? This was a delivery-related complaint, not one about an abortion.

    • cjvg

      Some authoritarian doctors feel that any and all home births or attempts thereof, must be vigorously prosecuted, less they lose power and income
      All this regardless of the FACT that most civilized western countries practice home births routinely and on a wide scale.
      And regardless the FACTS that western European maternal and fetal health statistics are much much better then those of the US with their overwhelming majority of in-hospital over-medicated birth process ( just check the death rates that are a mere fraction of those in the US)
      like the article said

      • Beatrix S.L

        Actually, most people who conduct homebirths in the US wouldn’t come close to qualifying for a license in Europe. And rather than homebirths, in Europe its more common to have a nurse midwife in a hospital or birthing center within or near a hospital.

        I hope you’re not confusing infant mortality with perinatal mortality – the U.S. has one of the lowest perinatal mortality rates in the world. Homebirths actually have a higher death rate.

        • cjvg

          I’am northern European!

          I’m not sure why you are attempting to errouneously “inform” me on a subject that I’m intimately and on a professionally level (clinical researcher) familiar with in both the US and Europe.

          The majority of my family as well as many of my friends and former colleges still reside in Europe and half of them are female and the rest of them (except for 3 gay individuals and 2 singles) are married or in a continues long term relationship with a female.

          About 80% of those have a child, or children and of those births at least 80% took place at home with another 6 % at birthing centers (which are not even remotely as common as they are here)
          The rest (4 %)were hospital births.

          Even in the US, all midwives must be certified by the state to practice medicine, most are in a close relationship with a back-up doctor and many are former delivery nurses who went into private practice as a midwife after taking the appropriate continued education and state exams and certification.

          It is a well know and very easily verified FACT that US maternal and fetal as well as peri-natal health is deplorable compared to that of western European nations.
          There is very little respect to be found among European doctors for American obstetricians.

          The CDC stopped publishing U.S. maternal mortality statistics
          after 2007.
          Their reasoning was that there is no standard form for reporting maternal deaths! (so lets ignore them altogether they reasoned!)
          The lack of comprehensive data collection is masking the full extent of maternal mortality and morbidity in the US, but the numbers are still staggering as reported by the CDC and AMA. Reporting of pregnancy-related deaths as a distinct category is mandatory in only six states, and despite efforts in some other states to use additional methods to track maternal deaths (such as death certificate pregnancy check boxes and data-linking birth
          certificates with death certificates of women of childbearing age), systematic under-counting of pregnancy-related deaths persists.

          Statistics released in September of 2010 by the United Nations (after an in-depth analysis of the reports and numbers provided by the CDC and AMA) place the United States 50th in the world for maternal mortality — with maternal mortality ratios higher than almost all European countries, as well as several countries in Asia and the Middle East. (deaths per 100.000 births) according to their own CDC reports and WHO reports.

          No home birth do NOT have a higher death rate, unless you dishonestly try to obfuscate the truth by using the numbers in countries that do not provide care at all and use the local sheep herder as midwifes!
          They aren’t at “epidemic” portions like in some poor nations that do not provide any skilled health care. And if you compare the U.S. to Niger, then yes, the American women don’t seem to be at a high
          risk. But the numbers are still higher then any other western nation and increasing steadily. So when should we start to worry?

          According to the US government themselves in a recent report
          America It is one of 23 countries where maternal mortality is
          steadily on the rise. The U.S. maternal mortality rates are higher than in 49 other countries (not all industrialized first world countries either)
          America also has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country, according to the federal Health and Human Services Administration.

          You are clearly extremely uninformed, the US also has one of the highest perinatal death rates among western countries!

          These numbers are all in per 1000 live births!
          Comparing the number of deaths/1000 live births in a large and
          populous country is the exact same thing as comparing the number of deaths/1000 live births in a small sparsely populated country!

          Lowest first-day mortality rates are found in Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Luxembourg, Singapore and Sweden.
          less than 0.5 / 1,000 live births
          Less than 1 birth in every 2000 live births will result in death. LESS!

          US first-day mortality rates 3 / 1000 live births = 11,300 death
          USfirst month mortality rates 4 / 1000 live birth = 18,400 death
          US first 5 year mortality rate 8 / 1000 live births = 32,200 death

          Best countries, first day mortality< 0.5/ 1000 live births = < 0.5
          Best countries, first month mortality 1 / 1000 live births = 1.0
          Best countries, 5 year mortality rate 3 / 1000 live births = 3.0

          Can you see it now?, even looking at the numbers per 1000 live
          births it is more then double!

          On THE FIRST DAY THE SAME NUMBER (3/1000 live births) OF US BABIES DIE as it takes other similar countries to die IN 5 YEARS!

          Let’s give you the percentages.
          US first day deaths = 35%
          Best countries first day = 13% 13% 14% 15% 18% 19% respectively for the 6 first best performing different countries

          How is that koolaid?!

          • HeilMary1

            I’ll bet Catholic hospitals in the U.S., Ireland and around the globe have vastly under-reported maternal and newborn deaths, thanks to pedophile priest-driven “obstetrics”.

          • Beatrix S.L

            Boy that was a long and bizarre ramble.

            Why don’t you google: Home births, even with a midwife, raise the risks for babies

            How’s that, cupcake?

          • cjvg

            The level of intelligence on this board is usually quite high, forgive me for not recognizing that you do not have the faculties to follow
            and understand the statistics and health reports that the American CDC, AMA as well as the WHO, and the UN routinely produce.

            The American CDC and AMA, both the pinnacles of the American health care system fully and openly admit that American maternal, natal as well as peri-natal health is by any measurement at the absolute bottom of the list of first world countries.
            In fact it is even below that of some third rate countries!

            I was giving you the benefit of the doubt that you had the mental capacities to read these reports, I guess I you just had to prove me wrong. I did make an attempt to educated you by lifting the high lights with the most important statistic out for you, but apparently even that is to much.

            I have tried to educate you how to make HONEST and real comparisons between homebirths and hospital births but you insist on using the patently dishonest and absurd comparison of global unassisted homebirths in countries that barely if any pregnancy care with American hospital births!

            European homebirths safety stats blow your American hospital stats completely out of the water as your own CDC and AMA as well as the ACOG (American college of Obstetrics and Gynecology)

            However maybe this is simple and small enough for YOU, this is the conclusion that the WHO and UN made after reading all these reports

            “On THE FIRST DAY OF LIFE,THE SAME NUMBER (3/1000 live births) OF US BABIES DIE as it takes other similar countries to die IN 5 YEARS!”
            There now you have it in a simple easily digestible sentence.
            Please refrain from spouting inane and completely unsupportable falsehoods just because you are either unwilling or unable to read the facts!

            Also, just some small advise for you; doubling down on statements that have irrefutably been proven lies (by the same authorities that are in charge of the issue you are making false claims about), does not make them facts!
            It just makes you look like an irrelevant uneducated cream puff!

      • Arekushieru

        Actually, since this man is anti-choice, I would have expected him to SUPPORT midwifery. After all, anti-choicers are misogynists who believe that just because women’s bodies CAN do something, they SHOULD do it. And anti-choice doctors should be no different. Supporting Midwifery, therefore, would put woman ‘back in their place’ so to speak, back to the time when women were considered unclean (and which was their own fault, too, dontcha know?) when pregnant or giving birth.

        • cjvg

          Yes, normally that would be the case.
          However he is also an obstetrician and that means that midwives (who are almost always women) are “undermining” his authority to determine how and were a woman can birth and what aid she is allowed. Also, and this is probably most important a midwife is a treat to his profit

          • Arekushieru

            I agree! Anyways, I SHOULD have added that, even though women were considered unclean, men thought THEY were the ones that caused pregnancy, yet, again, in turn, women were the ones who gave birth to unwanted daughters. Ugh, the (irrational) MISOGYNY.

        • Arekushieru

          @disqus_gMZ8eaj5xG:disqus Your comment is awaiting moderation, so I cannot reply to it. Hopefully, you can find this one! Anyways, I don’t understand why it IS waiting for moderation, but I 100% agree with it!

    • HeilMary1

      I wonder if he opposes “contraceptive” c-sections because they limit women to 4 children? Maybe he performs barbaric symphysiotomies instead?

  • jruwaldt

    One of the reasons abortion was outlawed in the first place was that (male) doctors didn’t like (female) midwives’ being involved in childbirth. Although many doctors now and many anti-choicers are women, it therefore isn’t surprising that an anti-choice doctor would disapprove of midwives.