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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Rebecca Hamlin

Second Advisor

Paul Collins

Third Advisor

Kathryne Young

Fourth Advisor

Jamie Rowen

Subject Categories

American Politics | Health Policy | Law and Politics | Law and Race | Law and Society | Maternal and Child Health | Other Legal Studies | Other Political Science | Social Justice | Women's Health


“The Land that Feminism Forgot” is an in-depth exploration of the politics of childbirth that draws together qualitative and quantitative evidence to theorize the connections between treatment in childbirth and maternal mortality. Situating the qualitative research in the larger national context, the second chapter offers a State Reproductive Autonomy Index that provides an overview of the reproductive policy landscape at the national level. The dissertation then explores the role of institutionalized childbirth, medical mistrust, and obstetric violence in the U.S.’s longstanding maternal mortality crisis and offers policy suggestions in key public health areas. Through 120 qualitative interviews with people who gave birth it examines the epistemic conflicts over whose knowledge and experience gets taken seriously during childbirth and how institutional policies can shape care. This dissertation finds that many of those who give birth felt ignored, marginalized, or fearful during their interactions with care providers. It also found that even when patients experienced events they did not want, a compassionate and communicative care provider left them with positive feelings about their interaction. The conclusion offers policy and social solutions that would address maternal mortality, medical mistrust, and shape a culture of childbirth that centers around health, wellness, and collaborative care.