AMC Networks - The Walking Dead
United States of America

In Season 3 of AMC’s television series The Walking Dead, the episode titled “The Killer Within” has a very disturbing scene in with the character of Lori has a gory, unnecessary cesarean section birth performed by the character Maggie and witnessed by her son. This scene helps perpetuate the ongoing lie of an honorable death during childbirth, which is in fact rare.

This scene is particularly awful in light of several ways that it misleadingly portrays an all too common real life situation. While the show is in fact fiction, in reality, a breach is rarely a reason by itself to perform a c-section as the baby can be turned around internally and externally.

Additionally, c-section births are performed far more often than necessary and entail far greater risks to both mother and child than natural birth through the birth canal. Here are some disturbing statistics regarding both:

According to a recent consensus statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are about four deaths for every 100,000 women after vaginal deliveries and about 13 deaths for every 100,000 women after cesareans. Severe complications like bleeding and infections are also more common – experienced by about 8.6 percent of women after vaginal births and 9.2 percent after C-sections.

Risks for a mother related to giving birth through c-section include but are not limited to the following:
• Infection: Infection can occur at the incision site, in the uterus and in other pelvic organs such as the bladder.
• Hemorrhage or increased blood loss: There is more blood loss in a cesarean delivery than with a vaginal delivery. This can lead to anemia or a blood transfusion (1 to 6 women per 100 require a blood transfusion1).
• Injury to organs: Possible injury to organs such as the bowel or bladder (2 per 1002).

Risks for a child who is birth using c-section include but are not limited to:
• Premature birth: If gestational age was not calculated correctly, a baby delivered by cesarean could be delivered too early and have low birth weight6.
• Breathing problems: When delivered by cesarean, a baby is more likely to have breathing and respiratory problems. Some studies show the existence of greater need for assistance with breathing and immediate care after a cesarean than with a vaginal delivery7.
• Fetal injury: The baby may be nicked or cut during the incision (on average, 1 or 2 babies per 100 will be cut during the surgery).

This information makes it particularly disturbing how quickly the characters in the show, who claim to love the character Lori, make the snap decision to sacrifice her life unnecessarily to facilitate the birth of her child. Not only could the scene inappropriately scare young mothers into believing that a breach or risk thereof requires a c-section birth, but it also seems to suggest that a mother’s life should be easily expendable if it can save the life of a child. Neither of these is true and the implication is irresponsible.

While it would be desirable to remove the scene from future airings of the episode, at the very least a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode should clearly state that the scene portrays dangerous untruths about the safety of natural birth vs. c-section with a link to accurate information. The viewership of the show includes many young parents and AMC needs to take responsibility for ensuring that they do not support misinformation that could greatly endanger their health and wellbeing.

We, the undersigned, call on AMC Networks to remove, edit, or add a disclaimer to The Walking Dead episode "The Killer Within" from Season 3. It portrays dangerous misconceptions about breach births, cesarean section birth and death during childbirth. Viewers who are uneducated about the actual information regarding the situation portrayed in the episode are literally at risk of making a poor decision about their own childbirth procedures that can result in severe and unnecessary health risks to both the mother and the child.

Every time misinformation of this nature is represented in popular culture it undermines proper education on the subject. Help to undersign this effort to help expectant mothers gain a true understanding of what the benefits and risks are.

Use of c-section in new births is already inappropriately high in view of statistical information that is readily available to support their decreased use. Help put an honest frame on the discussion of natural birth vs. c-section birth and show your selves as allies of the young families that watch your television series.

Please do the right thing and let your viewers know you care about the welfare of them and their families.

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The Hold AMC Responsible for Misinformation About Childbirth petition to AMC Networks - The Walking Dead was written by Grecia Lane and is in the category Television at GoPetition.