How The Medicalization Of Birth Has Legally Influenced A Woman 's Right

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This paper addresses the ways globalization and the medicalization of birth has legally influenced a woman’s right to “choose” her birthing practices. With the medicalization of birth in recent years, the Western ideology that a hospital birth is safer, and more “modern” has resulted in legal influences on the role of a woman’s “choice” in delivery. Three influences, including patriarchy, globalization and development, are examined to analyze how the medicalization of women’s reproductive processes were originated and are currently perpetuated. The expression of these three factors as well as other social and legal factors that influence a woman’s choice in a medicalized birth verses a home birth vary globally. Therefore, this paper will focus on an Inuit case study regarding a law made in the 1970’s for mandatory evacuation of all pregnant women to Canadian hospitals. Although women, medical anthropologists, and feminist scholars are fighting against this control, the mandate remains in effect today. This case study, along with other legal and social influences limiting women’s choice in the birthing process, needs to come to the public’s attention. Only then can women start to regain control over choices regarding their own pregnancies.
Conceptual Framework
Beginning in the 1900’s, pregnancy and childbirth have become increasingly medicalized (Mullin, 2005). In her book, Reconceiving Pregnancy and Childcare, Amy Mullin states the medicalization of birth
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