Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics
Defiant Birth takes up the issue of eugenics in a new and complex guise. Disability is today seen as a pathology to be screened well before birth, indeed to prevent birth. In this book women tell their stories about defying...
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Defiant Birth takes up the issue of eugenics in a new and complex guise. Disability is today seen as a pathology to be screened well before birth, indeed to prevent birth. In this book women tell their stories about defying the creed of perfection. In the face of widespread discrimination against the disabled and a eugenic culture which pathologises disability and crushes diversity, comes a new book which radically challenges the status quo. Defiant Birth: Women Who Give Birth Against Medical Expectations, tells the personal stories of women who have resisted medical eugenics women who were told they shouldnt have babies because of perceived disability in themselves or shouldnt have babies because of some imperfection in the child. They have confronted the stigma of disability and in the face of silent disapproval and even open hostility, had their babies anyway, in the belief that all life is valuable and that some are not more worthy of it than others. This is a book about women who have dared challenge the utilitarian medical model/mindset. Disparaged and treated as pariahs for departing from accepted medical wisdom they have chosen non compliance with medical/social prejudice and defiantly said yes to their babies, and no to the cult of bodily perfection. This is a controversial book that looks critically at the way in which medical eugenics is being used as a contemporary form of social engineering. Melinda Tankard Reist has written a strongly argued and trenchant introduction setting out the issues, among them the idea that having children is about quality control and the paradigm of perfection. Defiant Birth explores what is means to have less-than-perfect pregnancies and genetically different babies. People with disabilities have been raising these issues for many years, but on the whole they remain silent and marginalised in the media. Among the issues raised are: how accurate are screening procedures? What is a worthwhile life? Who should decide which life is worth living?
Daring women-those who were told not to have their babies due to perceived disabilities in themselves or their unborn children-tell their stories in this controversial book that looks critically at medical eugenics as a contemporary form of social engineering. Believing that all life is valuable and that some are not more worthy of it than others, these women have given birth in the face of disapproval and hostility, defied both the creed of perfection and accepted medical wisdom, and given the issue of abortion a complexity beyond the simplistic pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy. As it questions the accuracy of screening procedures, the definition of a worthwhile life, and the responsiblity for determining the value of an imperfect life, this book trenchantly brings to light many issues that for years have been marginalized by the mainstream media and restricted to disability activism.
Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra-based writer and researcher with a special interest in womens health, new reproductive technologies and medical abuses of women. She trained and worked as a journalist in country Victoria and was awarded a Rotary Foundation Scholarship to study journalism in the United States in 1987.
Melindas' work has been published in newspapers and journals in Australia and overseas. She has written chapters on the mistreatment of women in population control programs for four books including China for Women: Travel and Culture (Feminist Press, New York, Spinifex Press, Melbourne). She has reported for a number of ABC radio programs, including 'Women Out Loud!' and Radio Australias Asia Focus program, for which she covered the United Nations Fourth World Womens' Conference in Beijing. Her books include Giving Sorrow Words and Defiant Birth.