The Rhetoric of Midwifery offers new insights into understanding these questions within the context of our present-day medical system.
As a point of departure, Mary M. Lay analyzes the public discussion over non-academically trained-or direct-entry-midwives within Minnesota. From 1991-1995, that state held public hearings about the possible licensing of traditional midwives. Lay focuses on these debates to examine the complex relationships of power, knowledge, and gender within the medical profession.
Lay examines the hearings and provides a framework for appreciating the significance of these debates. She also details the history of midwifery, highlighting ongoing concerns that have surfaced ever since the profession was created, centuries ago.
In the remaining chapters, she focuses on the key testimonies offered during the debates. Capturing the actual testimony of midwives, home-birth parents, nurses, physicians, and attorneys, The Rhetoric of Midwifery reveals how the modern medical profession seeks to claim authority about birth. Lay bolsters her argument by culling from such sources such as historical documents, an internet discussion group, and conversations with modern midwives