Synopses & Reviews
"In her beautifully rendered study of midwifery in Virginia, Craven shows how the rhetoric of ‘consumer choice’—a shibboleth of those promoting reproductive rights for women—excludes large segments of the childbearing population. In the best tradition of anthropology, she unpacks an irony, illustrating how our social and economic environment can simultaneously celebrate and constrain women's choices. Great stuff."
—Raymond De Vries, Professor, Bioethics/Sociology/Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan and author of A Pleasing Birth: Midwifery and Maternity Care in the Netherlands
"Craven makes a convincing case for her claim that a continued commitment to expanding reproductive justice is dependent on finding ways to see, and then to ameliorate, the race and class prejudices that lurk, thinly veiled, below the surface of the push for midwives. The most important contribution of this book is the author’s sophisticated and nuanced historical discussion of factors that have shaped struggles over reproductive healthcare in the Unites States."
— American Journal of Sociology
With the increasing demand for midwives, activists are lobbying to loosen restrictions that deny legal access to homebirth options. In Pushing for Midwives, Christa Craven presents a nuanced history of women’s reproductive rights activism in the U.S. She also provides an examination of contemporary organizing strategies for reproductive rights in an era increasingly driven by “consumer rights.”
An historical and ethnographic case study of grassroots organizing, Pushing for Midwives is an in-depth look at the strategies, successes, and challenges facing midwifery activists in Virginia. Craven examines how decades-old race and class prejudices against midwives continue to impact opposition to—as well as divisions within—women’s contemporary legislative efforts for midwives. By placing the midwifery struggle within a broader reproductive rights context, Pushing for Midwives encourages activists to reconsider how certain political strategies have the potential to divide women. This reflection is crucial in the wake of neoliberal political-economic shifts that have prioritized the rights of consumers over those of citizens—particularly if activists hope to maintain their commitment to expanding reproductive rights for all women.
About the Author
Christa Craven is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the College of Wooster.
Table of Contents
Notes on Research and Activism
Introduction: Pushing for Midwives
1 Histories of Struggle
2 The Birth of Consumer Activism for Midwives
3 Midwives in Virginia
4 Mothers in the Legislature
5 “I'm Not Really Politically Active, but . . .”
6 Divisive Strategies
Epilogue: Beyond Consumer Rights