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Working AlternativesAmerican and Catholic Experiments in Work and Economy$
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John C. Seitz and Christine Firer Hinze

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288359

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288359.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The “Dignity of Motherhood” Demands Something Different

The “Dignity of Motherhood” Demands Something Different

A Catholic Experiment in Reproductive Care in New Mexico

(p.225) The “Dignity of Motherhood” Demands Something Different
Working Alternatives

Kathleen Holscher

Fordham University Press

This chapter considers the work of the Catholic Medical Mission Sisters as midwives in New Mexico during the middle of the twentieth century. The sisters’ experimental initiative to provide midwifery and home birthing services to local women was integral to anti-poverty work in the state, and conformed to a midcentury Catholic view in which economic justice, understood solely in the context of the money economy, failed to address the unique dignity of women tied to the vocation of motherhood. The sisters’ work sheds light on how Catholic ideas about femaleness informed non-economic initiatives aimed at the poor, even as it also reveals the layered effects of historical experiments, economic or otherwise, to honor the “dignity of the poor,” when those experiments happened across differences of race, and in the shadow of asymmetrical relations of political power.

Keywords:   anti-poverty, Catholic, economic justice, gender, home birthing, midwifery, motherhood, race, women

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