5 Yale J.L. & Feminism 315 (1992-1993)
Midwifery is not the Practice of Medicine

handle is hein.journals/yjfem5 and id is 321 raw text is: Midwifery Is Not the Practice of Medicine
Suzanne Hope Suarezt
For the great majority of American women, the right to choose the place
and manner of giving birth has quietly, but continually, narrowed.1 In just half
a century, allopathic physicians2 in the United States have enticed ninety-nine
percent of us into their places of business (hospitals) for childbirth, forced on
us a medical model of birth that has never been proven safe or beneficial,
raised the price of services which have diminished in quality and quantity, and
lobbied state legislatures for laws that would require us to submit to their
exclusive control during pregnancy and childbirth.
Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give
birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call
obstetrics and something completely different, the art of midwifery.
If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover
midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back child-
birth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the
service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.'
t R.N., B.S.N., J.D., AAUW Educational Foundation National Fellow, 1991-1992. Chair, Healthy
Start Coalition Advisory Board for Florida, 1991. Florida Bar Foundation Public Service Fellow, 1989-
1992.
The author wishes to thank the following people for their assistance and personal attention to this
project: Mary Chaisson, Larry George, Maura Ghizzoni, Doris Haire, Sheila Kitzinger, Bill Lewis, Tom
Marks, Becky Martin, Jo Anne Myers-Ciecko, Michel Odent, Nat Stern, and Beth Swisher. This paper
is dedicated to American midwives who have suffered injustice in the struggle to preserve informed choices
in childbirth for all women.
1. When feminists speak about choice, the principal topic is often abortion and the right to terminate
pregnancy. The lack of choice in childbirth, however, is beginning to attract the interest of today's feminist
political mainstream. Many organizations concerned with women's rights are in the process of broadening
their view of reproductive rights to include midwifery. For example, in Florida, the following organizations
supported or lobbied for the Florida midwifery bill which passed in 1992: the Florida chapter of the
National Organization for Women, Florida Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies, the Academy of Florida Trial
Lawyers, the Florida Women's Political Caucus, and the Florida chapter of the American Association of
University Women. Interview with Beth Swisher, legislative lobbyist, Florida Midwives Association (Mar.
6, 1992).
2. Allopaths are known simply as doctors or physicians today. Allopathy is a method of
treating disease with remedies that produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself.
AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 95 (3d ed. 1992). Allopathy can be
distinguished from other healing systems such as osteopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, and naturopathy.
3. Dr. Michel Odent, Address at the Meeting of the National Alliance of Parents and Professionals
for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (Aug. 16, 1986). Dr. Odent was formerly the director of the state
hospital in Pithiviers, France, and is presently Director of the Primal Health Institute in London. The
Institute researches the long-term health effects of medical interventions and other factors from the
beginning of pregnancy to the end of infancy.
Copyright 0 1993 by the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism

What Is HeinOnline?

With comprehensive coverage of government documents and more than 2,400 journals from inception on hundreds of subjects such as political science, criminal justice, and human rights, HeinOnline is an affordable option for colleges and universities. Documents have the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?