‘Catching Babies’ represents different narrative of women’s healthcare, childbirth


Saturday night at Jameson residence hall on Douglass campus was home to an intimate-sized group of women and men interested in learning about an alternative narrative of women’s reproductive health options, specifically for women of color.

Jameson screened “Catching Babies,” a documentary celebrating the power of birth, women and midwives. The film followed individual stories of several women who chose to receive their prenatal and reproductive health care at a midwife-run clinic in El Paso, Texas.

“(This film) brings awareness to women’s reproductive health choices and health justice,” said Patrice Williams, School of Arts and Sciences and Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy senior.

The independent film was chosen by the three organizations co-sponsoring the event for its focus on reproductive justice and women of color, as well as being made by women producers and directors, said Rachel Landingin, School of Arts and Sciences junior and Speak Out President.

“How do we decolonize the idea of birthing?” Landingin asked.

“Decolonization” in the context of picking a film means to deconstruct the dominant — white, capitalist, patriarchal — views and practices on the subject, and is a primary goal of her organization when approaching any topic.

In addition to Speak Out’s sponsorship, the event was also funded by the Sexualities House at the Global Village, a Douglass Residential College living-learning community, and Planned Parenthood Youth Rising Fellows.

The event started with an interactive presentation about different contraceptive methods and their procedures, given by Camille Charles, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Williams, both Planned Parenthood fellows and sexual health advocates for Health Outreach Promotion and Education.

“(The presentation connected) where you are now and where you may be in the future,” Williams said. “(It) bridged a link between babies and college students. Some have children, some want children, some don’t want children and some want children later.”

Because the event was for college students and not all of them are interested in having children right now, if at all, it was important to make a link between these women having children and their experiences and the audience’s everyday lives, Williams and Charles said on their contraceptive-options presentation.

It is also important to educate people on their options for health care and access to different non-traditional methods of health care, so people and their needs don’t become “medicalized,” Williams said. Because science and science research is not unbiased, it is important to promote alternative options and less-mainstream perspectives of the health care process.

“(Talking) on behalf of H.O.P.E. Health Services, we take the harm-reduction model. So we try and give people the information to not just be abstinent, but be able to make their own informative choices,” Charles said.

Antoinette Gingerelli, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, felt like the presentation did a good job of connecting the scope of the demonstration and the film. She said both events were interconnected so not leaving either out was key to a better understanding of the film.

Gingerelli attended the event to support her friends running it, who are passionate about reproductive health and social justice, and to learn more about reproductive health differences in the United States compared to the rest of the world, especially when it comes to infant and paternal mortality.

After the film, there was an open discussion about the film's issues and the need for different narratives when discussing reproductive health. Having an understanding of what is happening in the health care industry is part of understanding a one's reproductive options, whenever or if ever one would like to exercise them.

“It’s important to learn about birth and policies (that) surround birth and be very involved in that because policies now will affect you later depending on the choice you make,” Williams said.

"Each community has it's own needs that need to be addressed," Langdingin said on the importance of a decolonized narrative.


Brittany Gibson

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