Wednesday, August 13, 2008

State Department Skeptical of Midwifery

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that people born in their own homes with a midwife may not be recognized as American citizens and denied important documentation like passports. The new practice has raised some panic in the southern part of Texas, where Latinos are commonly born in their own homes with a midwife. Yesterday the National Latina Institute for Reproductive health issued a statement that called this determination "racist and unfair." The statement went on to say, "This practice unfairly targets Latino citizens on the border and those who were born to parteras or midwives in private residences, a common practice among Latinos."

This is pretty clearly evidence that among certain groups, "American" means something very specific. Even how we view childbirth has become strongly influenced by culture. Midwives used to be extremely common, even among white Americans, but sometime before the middle of the 20th Century, middle-class Americans began giving birth in hospitals. Now, the State Department has determined that this is the norm, and has deemed all others with different beliefs or cultural practices un-American.

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