Friday, October 19, 2012

Do You Call the Midwife?

My dad has been trying to get me to watch the BBC's Call the Midwife (running on PBS here in the States) for weeks now. I finally gave in, climbed into bed with my laptop, and prepared myself to see what all his fuss was about.

Holy cow.

The show is really well done. Which isn't that surprising, considering that it's a BBC series. Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, focuses on a group of nuns and nurses working as midwives in the East End in the 1950s.

I must say, I don't think I've ever been so grateful to be a woman living in the modern world as I am watching this show. Back in the day, a woman needed to be shaved and have an enema (all while in labor) before delivery. Thankfully, modern medicine has taught us that neither of those are actually necessary and can actually cause infection more often than not.

More importantly, I am consistently struck by the pregnant women's stories. And this show has seen it all: giving birth to her 25th child, rickets that caused the mother to have four stillborn children, breeched babies, prostitution, forced adoption, STDs, and affairs. Quite a lot for just three episodes.

Jill Moffett wrote a great article for Bitch, "Five Things Republicans Can Learn about Health Policy from Call the Midwife". I agree with all of her points. I think that a lot of problems women faced in the 1950s are still dealt with today. Sure, we have better medications and more highly trained physicians. But what about the women who can't afford health care? What about the women who don't have access to birth control? What about the women in an abusive relationship whose partners prevent them from asserting their right to choose?

I think everyone should watch Call the Midwife. Our reproductive past is intimately linked to our reproductive future.

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