Book Review: Pushing for Midwives: Homebirth Mothers and the Reproductive Rights Movement
by Christa Craven
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Temple University Press; 1 edition (October 28, 2010)
Reviewed by Molly Remer, Talk Birth
Mainstream feminist groups have been slow to recognize the right to reproduce along with the right to be free from reproducing. A focus of the second-wave women’s movement was shaking off motherhood as what solely defined womanhood. So perhaps there has been a reluctance to watch over the process that makes women mothers. –Jennifer Block quoted in Pushing for MidwivesFramed as a health policy concern, Pushing for Midwives assesses the homebirth movement and midwifery activism in the context of the reproductive rights movement. The focus of the book is on legislation in Virginia, but is still of relevance and interest to activists from other states. Craven also tackles complicated topics that are often ignored in homebirth and midwifery texts, addressing issues of race, privilege, and socioeconomic status and the impact on access to care. She also takes a solid look at issues of political and religious diversity within the homebirth activist community.
Written in a densely academic style evocative of a dissertation, Pushing for Midwives, became tedious and dry in places and took a long time to finish reading. The very narrow focus on Virginia, while still applicable to other states, became tiresome by the final chapters.
I particularly enjoyed Craven’s exploration of the history of consumer activism in midwifery as well as the consideration of homebirth in the larger context of women’s health activism. I appreciated her exploration of the feminist movement and how it has historically neglected issues of birth advocacy and reform, while also looking the current relationship between feminism and midwifery activism, particularly how birth advocates choose to self-identify. Women’s health activists and midwifery advocates will likely find a lot of food for thought in the pages of Pushing for Midwives.
Disclosures: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
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