Hunting whales is a matter of life or death for the residents of St. Lawrence.
The arrest of three homebirth midwives serving Amish and Mennonite communities in rural upstate New York ignites a legislative fight for freedom of choice in birthing rights.
Elaine Epstein is a South African filmmaker currently based in New York. Elaine’s film State of Denial, examining the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003 and aired on the PBS award-winning series, POV. My Midwife is Elaine’s second feature documentary film.
The arrest of three homebirth midwives serving Amish and Mennonite communities in rural upstate New York ignited a legislative fight for freedom of choice in birthing rights. When a Mennonite baby died after being attended to by a homebirth midwife, an unprecedented legal drama ensued. The midwife was charged with 95 felony charges, including criminally negligent homicide. Shortly after, two other midwives were arrested and similarly charged.
Fearful of losing the right to homebirth altogether, members of the Amish and Mennonite communities collectively defied their pacifist culture in order to stand up and fight to get their midwives back. Together with the midwives, they became a powerful voice challenging the industrialized medical model of maternity care and New York state’s restrictive midwifery laws. At a time when the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries, My Midwife applies the lens of these cases to examine this national health crisis and the ongoing battle between medicine and midwifery, and the rights of women in childbirth.