"Medical Challenge to Midwifery" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

Essay by iggie013College, UndergraduateA, April 2003

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In the article "Medical Challenge to Midwifery," written by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, many themes, patterns and trends that are concurrent with ideas as expressed in the novel Midwives by Chris A. Bohjalian. These themes, patterns, and trends include sexism, conflict between physicians and midwives, home remedy usage, the public opinion on the role of doctor and midwife in childbirth, the psychological implications of the role of the doctor and midwife, and finally the intimidation of patients by doctors advantages and disadvantages of using new technology in childbirth.

Sexism is a huge pattern that seemed to arise throughout both the novel and the article. In the novel, Sybil Danforth was a lay-midwife in the early eighties. Many people disregarded her idea of childbirth as an "unsafe" and "hazardous" was to bring a child into the world. When her trial occurred, it became apparent that many of the male doctors did not believe Sybil shouldn't have ever been faced with the decision that she made because she shouldn't have been in the situation to begin with.

The mother should have planned to have her child in the hospital, and that way modern technology could have possibly both mother and child. In the article, it is stated that there is an "unspoken assumption that a man's knowledge was in some sense superior to a woman's experience." Although this statement is in no way justified, it was believed for many years, and in some cases, is still believed today. Finally, midwives were paid less and were more experienced in the field than the high paid doctors.

The conflict between midwives and physicians is perhaps the most prominent parallel between both the novel and the article. In the novel, Sybil was considered irresponsible for simply believing that she could safely deliver any child that...