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Reading Birth and Death: A History of Obstetric Thinkingby Jo Murphy Lawless
Synopses & Reviews
The issue of who should control childbirth remains one of the outstanding problems for the women's movement, despite almost four decades of campaigning for change. This continuing relevance suggests that exercising choice and personal agency remain political struggles for each woman who faces an institutional maternity care system.
Since the eighteenth century, obstetric discourse has had a decisive impact on women's experience of childbirth. Using historical records from Irish hospitals and the writings of Irish doctors, this book analyzes the core beliefs and practices of obstetric science.
It reveals a belief in the incompetence of women with regard to childbirth and traces the effects on women of such a radically gendered notion. The author argues that the problem of exercising personal agency which women face stems directly from the way the science has worked.
In exploring the discourse and power in relation to scientific thinking, Reading Birth and Death makes an important contribution to the fields of obstetrics, midwifery, childbirth education, sociology of the body, cultural studies and women's studies.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-332) and index.
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