Shifting the Medical Gaze: Towards a Feminist Ethic of Childbirth The term "reproductive rights" has become synonymous with abortion rights, birth control access, and issues surrounding reproductive technologies, yet the struggle for a woman's right to choose when and how to become pregnant often overshadows a woman's right to choose where and how to give birth. The lack of feminist discourse and activism surrounding issues of childbirth may attest to the hegemony in the modern American birth ritual of increasing medical intervention from obstetricians in hospital settings. There are currently several movements to challenge this dominant birth model--prepared childbirth advocates offer education classes and natural childbirth advocates lobby for the rights of midwives and home births--but I refrain from giving either of these movements a feminist label because neither are invested in challenging prevailing gender ideology or the equation of woman with motherhood. This paper will argue that a feminist discourse of childbirth is necessary by using a Foucauldian analysis to chart the current web of power and knowledge in the American hospital delivery room and how it works to deny agency to women in labor, alienating them from their experience. Recognizing that power and knowledge operate on a myriad of levels and tactics, including counter-tactics, I will not limit my focus to the dominant discourse of medical experts, but also explore what I call counter discourses of childbirth, particularly from the prepared childbirth and natural childbirth advocates.
Margaret Sanger New York: Doubleday, 1969. 2. Gray, Madeline. Margaret Sanger: A Biography Of The Champion of Birth Control. New York: Richard Marek Publishers, 1979.
Out to work: a history of wage-earning women in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). Web. 26 May 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2150229?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents Lunbeck, Elizabeth. "The 'girl problem': female sexual delinquency in New York, 1900-1930," Journal of American History; June 1996, Vol. 83 Issue 1 Web.
The viciousness which happens today because of the for/against life conflicts is minimal in comparison to the many sad ladies who turned to the unlawful illegal abortions either self-incurred or performed by the backroom "experts" which resulted in infection, huge blood misfortune, and death. Now that women have a clean sanitary place to have an abortion women have fewer risks. No matter what side you are legalizing abortion is the only option. Women have the right to choose to have an abortion or not. They will do what is necessary to live as they want and please.
from American Psychologist, 36, 1981. 2. Friedan, Betty, The Feminine Mystique. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001) 3. Gornick, Janet and Meyers, Marcia, Families That Work: Policies for Reconciling Parenthood and Employment.
Socially, much progress was made in the areas of educational equality, contraception awareness, and the anti-slavery and temperance movements. Women were also somewhat successful economically by gaining more equality in the workplace. Politically, however, they were not so fortunate. Women did not get the right to hold property or divorce until well after the civil war, nor did they gain the right to vote until 1920. Ideas like these were considered by most to be too radical to take on at the time.
Whitehead, Mary Beth, with Loretta Schwartz-Nobel. A Mother's Story: The Truth About the Baby M Case. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. Surrogate Motherhood. < http://www.debatabase.org/details.asp?topicID=93 > Surrogate Mothers.
1992. Bolton, Sarah K. Lives of Girls who Become Famous. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell company publishers, 1886 “Elizabeth Barrett Browning”. Cyclopedia of World Authors. 3rd ed.
Margaret Sanger, born September 14, 1879, was a women’s rights activist who led the birth control movement and dedicated her life to fighting for access to sexual health information for women. The impact of her work can still be felt today as reproductive health is no longer a forbidden topic and access to birth control or other contraceptives is mainstream. Sanger fought for women to have access to sexual health information so they could properly educated themselves about the control they have over their own bodies. In order to understand where the world is now with sexual health, it is important to understand the world in which Sanger started her work. Sanger came into age during a time where the Comstock Act of 1873 was in full effect.
Reproductive Rights Women’s reproductive rights are a global issue in today’s world. Women have to fight to have the right to regulate their own bodies and reproductive choices, although in some countries their voices are ignored. Abortion, sterilization, contraceptives, and family planning services all encompass this global issue of women’s reproductive rights. In India, women are being manipulated to stop having children after their second birth. Officials claim that by regulating population and the pregnancies of women after their second child they will be able to empower women by offering them contraceptive choices and child care facilities.