Politics of Birth Places

Examining the Professionalization and Moralization of Birth Place Choices


  • Aireen Grace Tomagan Andal Ural Federal University



This work examines how the no home birth policy is embedded in the professionalization and moralization of maternal health. Technological advancements have established authorities in the birthing process, and at the same time, health has been seen as a moral obligation. The “best interest” of the maternal organism, as informed by experts, is used as justification for no the home birth policy. With these developments comes the potential of the no home birth policy to distort freedom, especially when maternal health is framed as a moral issue that nitpicks on the pregnant citizens’ obligation alone. This work, however, argues that oppressive nature of birth restrictions goes beyond mere infringement of freedom. Using Berlin’s (1969) discussion on freedom, this work discusses the rather hidden oppressive nature of birth restrictions that comes when it is framed as helping pregnant people choose a moral option as per the advise of medical authorities at the expense of seeing an institutional failure to provide informed choice or options for birthing places for their so-called “best interest”. This is suggestive of double standards as this policy restricts choice based on expert advice without providing for alternatives. When the maternal organism is framed as the moral bearer of the responsibility of birth place, preferences are bound to be judged with guilt-ridden sentiments, shame and other value-laden labels related to one’s choice rather than be seen as a reflection of the quality of institutional support. The no home birth policy reflect that a pregnant person’s decision of birthplace is not isolated from the availability of one’s choice. Indeed, there is democratic interest to discussing home births as this policy could be democratic at best and discriminatory at worst.

Keywords: homebirth, moralization, freedom