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In his defense of what he considers a woman’s practice, he establishes the origin of man-midwifery as a “fashion first set by the court prostitute of Paris” in December 1663. He urges the Bostonians not to accept the practice of man-midwifery and instead urges women to advertise themselves in the papers as practitioners of the art.
The fact that Gregory finds it important to offer such a strong defense in favor of women is a statement that women in the colonial era were not regarded as qualified enough to perform “obstetric art” (15). He also alludes to the fact that most husbands, wives, and daughters were not at ease with male mid-wives as “the husband’s monopoly over his wife ceased” (9). The statement clearly shows that man-midwifery was associated with moral decadence and extramarital relations.
Several aspects of women in the colonial era emerge Gregory’s paper. First, the fact that it is a man championing the rights of women to monopolize the practice of midwifery means that women at the time were not in a position to argue for themselves. This could be as a result of lack of training and education. Gregory applauds efforts from Paris where an institution was established to train women on midwifery practices. He suggests that such an institution should be established in Boston.
The growing custom of man-midwifery or accoucheurs was seen as a “war against women [which was] prosecuted with the same vigor [in Boston] as in England” (11). This shows that even as early as 1840, women were still struggling to be recognized as an important part of the society. Those who supported women to take up the midwifery roles sought to embrace the long standing tradition that was established in England and Europe as a whole.
At first Gregory points to instances where women in the past have taken the task of helping fellow women deliver. He associates the
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