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Man-Midwifery Exposed and Corrected
Gregory, Samuel
Published by George Gregory, New York
Location of original: Countway Rare Books, Harvard University
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good opinion of this movement; for his part he was willing to let his wife make her own complaint in the matter, and he thought it a preposterous idea, this attempting to put down a custom which has existed for ages, and was sanctioned by all classes of the community. 'Friend,' said I, 'how long do you think man-midwifery has been in vogue?' 'Ever since the days of Adam, for aught I know,' was the reply.
Now, as many are satisfied with the present practice, from similar ideas of its venerable antiquity and its universal currency, it may be well to present some information as to its origin and progress. It is true that it cannot be objected to the system, that it originated in the dark ages, or in the half-civilized nations of the earth, nor among the barbarous tribes of Asia, or Africa, or the Indians of America. No; none of these would so far violate nature and propriety, as to allow men to assume such an inappropriate office. Hence we find the origin of man-midwifery in an age of luxury and lewdness, and in a most licentious city and court.
Dr. Davis, of London, Professor of Midwifery, author of a large work on the subject, and a champion of man-midwifery, says, 'Many years have not yet elapsed since any part of the ordinary practice of midwifery has devolved upon the male practitioner. It is pretty generally known, that the Duchess of Villiers, a favorite mistress of Louis XIV of France, was the first female who was induced to place herself under the exclusive obstetric care of a professor of surgery independent of any anticipated necessity for a surgical operation. That event took place in December, 1663; and Julien Clement, the fortunate attendant upon the case, was soon after appointed to the new and lucrative office of Midwifer to the Princess of France.'
Here, then, we have the origin; and it is worthy of the corruption and iniquity which have attended its progress. Our females, it seems, are following a fashion first set by a court prostitute of Paris, 185 years ago; and too many physicians, like the worthy Dr. Davis, seem to have uppermost in their minds 'the fortunate attendant' and the 'lucrative office.'
It seems that even this 'favorite mistress' had some modest scruples, for Dr. Kendrick remarks, in his Edinburgh Medical Dictionary, 'As she desired it might be kept a profound secret, she sent for Julien Clement, a surgeon of reputation; and he was conducted with the greatest secrecy into a house where

the lady was, with her head covered with a hood. The same surgeon was employed in subsequent labors of the same lady, and the princesses made use of surgeons on similar occasions; and as soon as it became fashionable, the name of accoucheur was invented to signify that class of surgeons. Foreign countries soon adopted the custom and likewise the name of accoucheurs, for they had no such term in their own language; but in Britain they have more generally been called men-midwives.'
Professor Davis, above mentioned, thinks that great advantages have been realized, 'since the ordinary business of obstetrics has ceased to be a monopoly in the hands of women.'
Now it is true that, in common with the progress in every thing else, great improvements have been made in the theory and practice of midwifery, within the last two centuries; and doubtless many of the improvements have been made in consequence of the introduction of men into the ordinary business of obstetrics, and more particularly their attention to extraordinary cases, and hospital practice. So too have philosophers and mechanics made various improvements in the modes and means of accomplishing other household duties, for instance, in cooking stoves and other culinary utensils; but who argues from that the incapacity of women to use them, or that women should be thrust out of the kitchen, and men take possession?
So in regard to midwifery. Put women in possession of all the knowledge upon the subject, and let them use it for the relief of their sex and for the good of the race. If they could manage these matters so exclusively before the dawning of science, how much more now with the light it has afforded!
Dr. Davis speaks of the ordinary business of obstetrics having been a monopoly in the hands of women. What a heinous offence, that woman should ever have assumed so improper a calling, and even dared to monopolize it! Down with monopolies! But fortunately, the docor thinks, this monopoly has ceased. Yes, and so, in many cases, as will appear, has the husband's monopoly over his wife ceased.
Dr. Davis prudently remarks, 'It may also be assumed as a matter at least of considerable probability, that a revolution so important and so recently effected may not even yet have fully completed its triumphs.'
A glorious revolution this! a war against

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