Disempowered Women? The Midwifery Model and Medical Intervention

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date


Publication Title

Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering


[Book abstract] Coming to Life does what too few scholarly works have dared to attempt: It takes seriously the philosophical significance of women's lived experience. Every woman, regardless of her own reproductive story, is touched by the beliefs and norms governing discourses about pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering. The volume's contributors engage in sustained reflection on women's experiences and on the beliefs, customs, and political institutions by which they are informed. They think beyond the traditional pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy, speak to the manifold nature of mothering by considering the experiences of adoptive mothers and birthmothers, and upend the belief that childrearing practices must be uniform, despite psychosexual differences in children. Many chapters reveal the radical shortcomings of conventional philosophical wisdom by placing trenchant assumptions about subjectivity, gender, power and virtue in dialogue with women's experience.

Original Citation

Charles, Sonya. "Disempowered women? The midwifery model and medical intervention." Coming to life: Philosophies of pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering (2013): 215-238.