“Birth on the Margins” is a focus group intended to bring to light the breadth of reproductive experience, particularly those that receive little or negative attention in political, popular, and medical discourse. While we recognize that any one of the topics we are proposing to look at over the course of a ten-week quarter could easily field its own focus group, our intent is to provide a sweeping view of the landscape of reproduction. However, all of these topics are necessarily bound together, particularly as they pertain to broader goals of social justice. Therefore, we feel that it will be a more pragmatic use of our time to consider a wide range of reproductive experience to unearth how many social justice issues are intimately connected to reproduction.
Our guiding questions for the focus group are:
1. What is reproductive justice and how can a reproductive justice framework shift our understanding of the most pressing social and political issues of our time?
2. How can an understanding of how reproductive ideas emerge, change, get challenged and reinforced be useful in considering the urgent political questions of our times regarding reproductive rights and resources in the United States?
3. Why are certain realities made visible in medical, popular, political discourse and how do these realities shape expectations? Stated differently, why do certain statistics and measurements count and how do these statistics shape social norms?
By the end of the quarter, students should:
1. Have a working, multidimensional definition of reproductive justice
2. Gain an increased awareness of current events and debates pertaining to reproduction occurring in the United States
3. Be able to explain the relevance of a reproductive justice framework within various academic disciplines, social movements, and their own lives
Topics and (Some) Proposed Readings:
1. Reproductive Justice
- Radical Doula (zine) by Miriam Zola Perez
- “What is Reproductive Justice?” by SisterSong (http://sistersong.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141&I...)
- The Meaning of Reproductive Justice: Simplifying a Complex Concept: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/02/08/communicating-complexity-reproductive-justice/)
2. Doulas and Midwifery
- Su May Lee, Amy and Maggie Kirkman: 2008 Disciplinary Discourses: Rates of Cesarean Section Explained by Medicine, Midwifery, and Feminism. Health Care for Women International 29(5):448-467.
- What Is the Goal of the Doula Movement?: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/04/05/what-is-the-goal-of-the-doula-movement/)
- DONA (Doulas of North America) Mission Statement
3. Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Abortion
- Supporting Her Journey: A Full-Spectrum Doula’s Look at the Politics of Motherhood: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/05/06/supporting-journeyfullspectrum-doula-look-politics-motherhood/
- My Invisible Earthquake: One Woman’s Journey Through Stillbirth: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/07/06/invisible-earthquake-woman-journey-through-stillbirth/
- Four Ways to Create Culture Change Around Abortion: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/05/22/four-ways-create-culture-change-around-abortion/
4. Birth and Cesarean
- Hunter, Lauren P.: 2006 Women Give Birth and Pizzas are Delivered: Language and Western Childbirth Paradigms. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 51(2): 119-123.
- Beckett, Katherine: 2005 Choosing Cesarean: Feminism and the politics of childbirth in the United States. Feminist Theory vol. 6(3): 251-275.
- Breastfeeding's Double (Gold) Standard: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/11/19/the-double-gold-standard/)
- Standford, Acquanda. “Are IBCLCs the new infant forumula?: A look at biopower, global sovereignty and the proliferation of breastfeeding professionals.” (http://acquandastanford.com/ibclcs-new-infant-formula-look-biopower-global-sovereignty-proliferation-breastfeeding-professionals-decolonizebreastfeeding/)
- In All the Debate About Breastfeeding, Where Is the Support For Mothers?: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/05/13/in-all-debate-about-breastfeeding-where-is-support-mothers/)
6. Maternal Mental Health
- Stanford, Acquanda. “Black Breastfeeding and Mental Illness: Struggling with Surviving.”(http://acquandastanford.com/black-breastfeeding-and-mental-illness-strug...)
7. Forced Sterilization and Birth Control Policies
- Smith, Andrea: 2005 “Better Dead than Pregnant:” The Colonization of Native Womens’ Reproductive Health.” Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.
- Stern, Alexandra Minna: 2011 From Legislation to Lived Experience: Eugenic Sterilization in California and Indiana, 1907-79. In A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era. Paul Lombardo, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
8. Criminalization of Pregnancy and Birth
- Can Prisons Take Care of Pregnant Women?: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/11/13/can-prisons-take-care-of-pregnant-women/)
- Unchain My Heart: The Shackling of Pregnant Women in Prison Needs to Stop: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/05/11/unchain-my-heart-shackling-pregnant-women-in-prison-needs-to-stop/)
9. Trans* and Queer Birth
- Park, Shelley: 2013 Introduction: Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood. In Mothering queerly, queering motherhood: resisting monomaternalism in adoptive, lesbian, blended, and polygamous families. Albany : State University of New York Press.
- Park, Shelley: 2013 Querying a Straight Orientation: Becoming a Mother (Twice, Differently). In Mothering queerly, queering motherhood resisting monomaternalism in adoptive, lesbian, blended, and polygamous families. Albany : State University of New York Press.
10. Homeless and Youth Reproductive Experiences
- Teen Motherhood: When "Reality TV" Doesn't Fully Reflect Reality: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/01/their-reality/)
- Alarmist Approaches to Teen Pregnancy Trumping Efforts to Help Teen Parents Succeed: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/10/29/teen-pregnancy-alarmism-disguises-real-issues-at-play-0/)
- When It Comes to Teen Pregnancy, Support Is Prevention: (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/04/01/comes-teen-pregnancy-support-prevention/)
11. Politics of Maternity Care
- AmnestyUSA Deadly Delivery report
- New Report Says U.S. Health Care Violates U.N. Convention on Racism - COLORLINES: (http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/08/new_report_says_us_health_care_violates_un_convention_on_racism.html)