Philosophy Faculty Publications

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This volume contains four sections, the first of which examines some of the special moral concerns that arise from assigning distinct activities and responsibilities to women and men respectively. It is difficult to argue against the view that women and not men are the birth-givers. But it is also true that death rates tied to pregnancy and birth-giving are unacceptably high in developing countries. Are women better off giving birth in hospitals with attending physicians (often male) or in homes with attending midwives (usually female)? Which approach should be "exported" to the developing world?

In the first chapter, "Exporting Childbirth," James L. Nelson questions the privileging of technological means over social means for making birth safer, and examines two distinct practices found in the Western developed world: demedicalized, home-based births with attending midwives in the Netherlands versus medicalized, hospital-based births with attending physicians in the United States. He argues that pervasive social expectations regarding women and childbirth result in forms of obstetrical practice that fail to accommodate much that many women regard as key to their experience of birth.



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The introduction is provided for download by permission of the publisher. Permission documentation is on file. To read the entire book, visit an academic library or see the publisher's website.


Rowman & Littlefield

Place of Publication

Lanham, MD

Peer Reviewed