Agreed Rules and Common Ground for Tuteur debate


Can you agree to these Rules for the debate, Amy Tuteur? Unless you do, I will not go ahead over the three days. As repeatedly stated from March onwards, I am not willing to have the debate hosted on Facebook, your page or mine, or any page you set up for the purpose, and I agreed to a debate with an independent moderator. And I explicitly refuse permission for you or anyone to post my intellectual property in any digital form on any page controlled by you or your followers.  For the duration of the debate, our communications must exist on a neutral site accessible by only the two of us and the independent moderator/site controller.  Afterwards that official site will be locked down so that the debate can be read but not altered in any way..

This notice of agreed Rules of Engagement and Agreed Common Ground will be posted on the debate website by the independent moderator.

  • Debate opens at XX on 19 June 2019, AEST. Amy Tuteur is the Instigator, Maureen Minchin the Respondent. An opening question has been set by Amy Tuteur. It is Are the benefits of breastfeeding real and clinically relevant or merely theoretical and not reproducible in large populations?
  • Maureen Minchin will post a response [at the agreed url, not yet decided] to this question. After this, posts will alternate singly between Maureen and Amy within each 24 hour period.
  • Debate closes at 12.01 on 22 June 2019, AEST. There will be no extension of time for this debate.  The url will then be locked down to a read only format.
  • The debate is an exchange of views between Maureen Minchin and Amy Tuteur. Only the named participants can contribute. There will be no side-channels, and comments from other people will not be added to the debate record.
  • The whole series of exchanges will be recorded and archived each day on an agreed WordPress website and only there. The website will be open for reading (but not comment) both during the debate and afterwards, when the site is locked down. If by mutual consent, excerpts from the debate or the whole debate are later posted elsewhere, they will always  include the url for the official website so that readers can check the context and veracity of any segment posted by either party or others.
  • There is an expectation of civility.  Breaches may justify ending the debate.
  • There is an expectation of  engagement with the full substance of each post. Any substantive points left unaddressed in a response may be explicitly highlighted a second time. If left unaddressed by a later response, those points may be taken as having been conceded.
  • The core of this debate is about the effects of different infant feeding methods on the health of infants, mothers, and families, and health professionals’ practice where relevant. Engagement with side issues is at the discretion of the participants and subject to mutual agreement.
  • Both participants explicitly and unequivocally call on everyone not to harass, abuse, insult or otherwise mistreat participants in this debate. Trolling Facebook pages, making insulting memes, speculating about motives, rude and abusive language, hate speech about groups, all contribute to ongoing “MommyWars” that damage women and children and prevent united advocacy for overdue and needed social change.

At present I am looking for a secure independent open access free site (not Facebook) to host the debate permanently. Neither Instigator or Respondent should have control of the site. Any edits or additions or clarifications should be done by, and at the discretion of, the site controller, and only  if agreed to by both parties. At present I am hopeful that I have found a suitable computer-literate person with no connection to either myself or the subject, and unaware of either of us or our writing, to set up and control the site. But he has not yet confirmed availability for June 19-21,the proposed dates.


Amy, are these agreed common premises we don’t need to debate? Please suggest amendments if you disagree with any of my basic principles as outlined below.

  • The welfare of children and of women is the primary basis for arguing the merits of one method of infant feeding over another. The most important consideration in parental decision-making, or health professional recommendation of feeding method to clients, is the wellbeing of the mother and child. Indirect and social effects are important, and can be relevant, but are secondary (and are not the subject of this debate). Partners’ preferences are also secondary to maternal autonomy.
  • Health professionals have a duty of care to their clients, and a legal responsibility to inform them of potential consequences of their infant feeding options, and toprovide information about relevant support groups.
  • Decisions with health implications must be made by those whose bodies are directly affected, or in the case of infants, be made by their parents or guardians. Before making decisions, parents should be fully and non-judgmentally informed about the potential effects of the available options.
  • Mothers especially should be fully and non-judgmentally informed of the potential risks to their own physical health in infant feeding practice
  • Many factors influence infant feeding decisions, and all parents should be supported to feed infants as safely as possible in their unique circumstances, and helped to manage any negative consequences.
  • Since some of the decisions about, and negative consequences of, any feeding method are the result of societal structures that limit parental choice, all infant feeding advocates should seek to change those systems;
  • Those who spend their lives supporting parents and children are entitled to make a living doing so, but at both individual and systemic levels, their interests are always secondary to the interests of those they serve.