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Week 13 Blog Post

Please post your responses to week 13’s readings on challenging technocratic conceptions here!

Note: I am canceling several of your readings this week, at the request of the presenters for next week.

Please read only the following readings for next week:

Birth as an American Rite of Passage: “The technocratic model: Past and present”

Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: “Barrier methods, natural family planning, and future directions”

Medical Anthropology Quarterly: “Claiming respectable American motherhood: Homebirth mothers, medical officials, and the state”

In connection with last week’s discussion on breasts and breast feeding

Below is a link that fellow classmate Pete emailed me.

Pete says: Here’s a link to an interesting personal story/commentary regarding the change in recommended mammography screening.

In particular, Jill connects false positives to expensive biopsies that insurance companies are not keen on paying for. She also contrasts this concern for false positives with the general disregard for women in society in general.

Week 9: What about pleasure and desire in sexual/reproductive health?

Please post your blog response to the week 9 readings on bringing pleasure and desire into sexual and reproductive health research and programming here.

Also, for those groups presenting earlier in the semester–please note that presentations begin in Week 10, so start preparing for your presentations now and don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you’d like to meet to discuss your presentation!

Imprisoned women shackeled to their beds when giving birth…

Here’s a post from Pete…what do you think–stratified motherhood at it’s worst?

I came across the article “Pregnancy and Prisons: Women’s Health and Rights Behind Bars”[1] which had links to several articles, one at talking about how, due to a law suit brought by a woman who gave birth in prison, Arkansas no longer shackles women
while they are giving birth.[2]

Another link is to an article, “Pregnancy in Prison: A Personal Story.” This is the story of Kebby Warner, a woman who gave birth in
prison, how she was only allowed three days with her baby after she gave birth and how the state terminated her parental rights because
she was in prison.

Looking at just these two stories, it’s clear that the intersection of gender, class, and race make motherhood more difficult for some (less
valued) mothers. Also, the comparisons between the treatment of pregnant women/mothers in US prisons and the treatment of those in
some other countries highlights the highly negative attitude in the US towards prisoners in general and their basically punitive treatment.

At the end, the original article directly asks several provocative questions:

“With pregnant women around the world not receiving health care of any sort, should additional efforts be made to benefit women who are in
prison? Is there a difference between mothers serving terms in correctional facilities and those outside? Should they be treated differently?”

I more or less reject the assumptions underlying the questions. We (the world as a whole) have more than enough resources to take care of
most, if not all, people’s health and well being. What is at issue is, what and who is/are valued. People vs. profits, punishment vs.
rehabilitation, women vs. men, us vs. the other, etc., which, interestingly enough, seems to be one of the overarching themes of
this course.

The original article is from a series for the site “Conversations for a Better World” (“a shared blog on population, gender, and
health”)[3]. At first glance this looks to be a really good site with an international perspective. Although, I haven’t read any more of the articles very critically yet, so I’m not sure how I really feel about it. One more thing to note is that the site is run by the Untied Nations Population Fund.[4] [1] “Pregnancy and Prisons: Women’s Health and Rights Behind Bars” –

[2] In Labor and In Chains –

[3] Conversations for a Better World –

[4] Untied Nations Population Fund –