Tag: women’s health

A Tale of Two Midwives across Four Centuries

What happens when the person who delivers most of the babies in her community is arrested? This is a tale of two midwives, separated by nearly four centuries of history, and yet remarkably alike. Six months ago, certified professional midwife Elizabeth Catlin was arrested on the grounds that she was practicing midwifery without a license…. Read more →

Between the Pages: Victorian Women’s Letters to H. Lenox Hodge

This essay was first published at Fugitive Leaves, the blog of The History Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Cracking open the accordion-notebook of Dr. Hugh Lenox Hodge at The History Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, I read from the top, thumb and index finger poised delicately at… Read more →

From Hospital to Home: Wendy Kline’s Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

Wendy Kline has delivered a new addition to the history of childbirth in America. In her engaging and well-researched book, Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth, Kline presents a new and necessary chapter in the story of the medicalization of childbirth in the United States: the history of the home birth movement. Kline has a… Read more →

Murder and Motherhood in 1950s Ireland: The Trial of Abortionist Mamie Cadden

On the evening of April 17, 1956, thirty-three-year-old Helen O. visited nurse Mamie Cadden at 17 Hume Street, Dublin, for what she likely thought would be a routine, if illegal, abortion.1 Helen O.’s death after the attempted abortion provoked a national controversy that complicated dominant constructions of motherhood and domesticity in mid-twentieth-century Ireland. In the… Read more →

Church Discipline and Miscarriage Mismanagement at Catholic Hospitals

Quick — is your nearest hospital affiliated with the Catholic Church? This is a question I would not have been able to answer during my two pregnancies. It never occurred to me that it was relevant. But in fact, for a woman who has a pregnancy complication that sends her to the emergency room, it… Read more →

Meanings and Materials of Miscarriage: How Babies in Jars Shaped Modern Pregnancy

In 1866, a young man in Crestline, Ohio, visited Dr. J. Stolz to ask the physician for help. Mr. B’s wife was in much pain and distress, and Mr. B feared for her life. Stolz accompanied the young man back to his house where he found the 16-year-old woman thrashing about in bed, screaming in… Read more →

Seeking Health and Doing Harm: Gender Bias, Medical Sexism, and Women’s Encounters with Modern Medicine

A 2011 survey completed by faculty at forty-four medical schools in the United States and Canada indicated that 70% of institutions did not have “a formal sex- and gender-specific integrated medical curriculum,” failing to provide adequate instruction on specific health topics for which sex- and gender-based evidence exists.1 This striking statistic, coupled with a personal… Read more →

Golden Girls, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the Legacies of Hysteria

On September 23, 1989, the fifth season of Golden Girls opened with a two-episode arc entitled “Sick and Tired.”1 The show as a whole focuses on the fictional comedic escapades of four older women sharing a home in Miami, Florida. The story line that opened the fifth season, however, was deeply autobiographical in nature, as… Read more →

I’m Not Crazy!: Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain

I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I had my first laparoscopy at 14. I’m very lucky. I got my period when I was 12, and from the start I was in such pain that I regularly missed school. Thankfully, my mother also had endometriosis and knew (although hoped she was not right) that I probably… Read more →

Gender, Health, & Marginalization: National Responses to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and Jamaica

After conducting Fulbright research on the cultural politics of HIV/AIDS in Jamaican women’s lives, I became interested in exploring how Afro-diasporic women matter in responses to the pandemic. This interest grew alongside both my personal experiences as an HIV tester in Detroit and my exploration of the global dilemmas surrounding sexual and reproductive health. The… Read more →