Past Event

Get Me Out: Childbirth in Early 20th Century NYC

August 22, 2017
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Ave., New York, NY


Free and open to the public, but advanced registration required. Please register on the New York Academy of Medicine website.

Although the development of germ theory in the 1880s shed light on the origins of childbed fever, which often killed women in the days after delivery, not much could be done to save lives until the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s. In the first program in our series, Who Controls Women’s Health?: A Century of Struggle, medical writer Randi Hutter Epstein explores the approaches taken in the interim by doctors, medical charlatans, and feminist activists, which demonstrate what can happen when the origins of a condition are debated, and its cure unknown.

Following her lecture, Epstein will be joined in conversation by Peter Schafer, Acting Director of Family Health and Disparities at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Who Controls Women’s Health?: A Century of Struggle is a free, three-part talk series that examines key battles over women’s ability to control their bodies, health choices, and fertility. It is developed in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York and supported by a grant from the Humanities New York.

Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D. is the author of “Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank” published by Norton, 2010. She has also written for The New York Times, Slate, The Daily Telegraph and several national magazines. Previously, she worked as a medical reporter for the London bureau of the Associated Press, and was the London bureau chief for Physician’s Weekly. She received an M.D. from Yale University, M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, M.P.H. from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1996, she was a Reuter Foundation Fellow for Medical Journalists at the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University. She is a 2011/2012 fellow of the Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University.

Peter Schafer joined NYAM as a Senior Policy Associate in 2013. He brings to his work at NYAM over twenty years’ experience in policy development, community-based participatory research, and program design and implementation for communities most directly affected by racial disparities in health. At NYAM, he has worked on implementing a public health approach to drug policy involving collaboration with the police department, district attorney’s office, community-based harm reduction providers, and health care services providers; developing a maternal mortality reduction strategy that seeks to take advantage of health care service utilization patterns of high-risk women with chronic physical health conditions; and adapting a community resilience framework to implement sustainable and effective approaches to disaster preparedness for older adults.

This event is sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine, developed in tandem with the Museum of the City of New York and supported by a grant from the Humanities New York.