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The Business of Being Born (2008)

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Birth: it's a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her ... See full summary »


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Director: Abby Epstein


Credited cast:
Mary Helen Ayres ...
Herself - Homebirth Midwife in Indiana
Herself - Parent (as Julia Barnett Tracy)
Sylvie Blaustein ...
Herself - Owner & Director, Midwifery of Manhattan
Louann Brizendine ...
Michael Brodman ...
Patricia Burkhardt ...
Tina Cassidy ...
Herself - Journalist and Author of 'Birth'
Ronaldo Cortes ...
Himself - Ob / Gyn (as Dr. Ronaldo Cortes)
Robbie Davis-Floyd ...
Herself - Medical Anthropologist
Eugene Declerq ...
Herself - Filmmaker
Eden Fromberg ...
Herself - Ob / Gyn (as Dr. Eden Fromberg)
Natashia Fuksman ...
Herself - Doula (Labor Support)
Ina May Gaskin ...
Herself - Midwife
Nadine Goodman ...
Herself - Public Health Specialist


Birth: it's a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to explore the maternity care system in America. Focusing on New York City, the film reveals that there is much to distrust behind hospital doors and follows several couples who decide to give birth on their own terms. There is an unexpected turn when director Epstein not only discovers she is pregnant, but finds the life of her child on the line. Should most births should be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

9 January 2008 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,574 (USA) (11 January 2008)


$69,348 (USA) (22 February 2008)

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User Reviews

Misleading and One-sided
15 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Like any good piece of propaganda, this movie starts by demonizing the OB/GYN profession (the enemy). The viewer is bombarded with images of early-20th century birthing practices as if they were still in use today. Having hospitals (and of course, insurance companies) set up as the "bad guy", the movie portrays the alternative (midwives) as the "natural" solution. Moreover, home delivery is portrayed as the only real choice for a woman to express her femininity and individual power.

A few hand-picked critics of hospital births are chosen, who promptly spew out some convenient statistics in support of home delivery. Correlations (like infant mortality rates) are presented as causality without even discussing other potential factors. For example, the movie likes to recite the infant mortality rates in the US as being higher along with the higher rates of hospital vs. home births in other industrialized countries. However, at no time do these "experts" note factors like the relative experience levels of midwives in Europe vs. the US. Nor is a qualitative assessment provided that compares the level of care offered. Further, factors like miscarriages are not even discussed (if there are higher rates in Europe then these babies would not be reaching full term, thus diminishing infant mortality at birth), nor are other elements like obesity discussed (the US is the fattest nation of fatties in the world).

One of the things that stood out to me was the frequent use of absolutes in their arguments: "There's no scientific evidence" to support hospital delivery as better than home deliver, etc. etc. Nothing even close to resembling counter-arguments were presented, making this documentary Michael Moore worthy in its biased presentation of its content.

It's a shame something so delicate has been treated with such utter disregard for good science and disinterested research. The movie maker had a clear agenda and presented a completely one-sided argument. If you disagreed with home birth, you simply are a brainwashed fool ready to submit to fake doctors posing as OB/GYNs.

Perhaps the most hilarious part of the movie came at the end, as the filmmaker went into labor one month early with a 3.5 lb baby who was in the breached position, umbilical cord wrapped tightly around its neck, as her water broke in a taxi cab as she was rushed to the ER. In spite of this, the filmmaker mused a month later "I think I would have been OK at home." Wow.

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