Fondly remembered: Marsden Wagner a giant of the birth world

“Showing women – half of all people – that they are inferior and inadequate by taking away their power to give birth is a tragedy for all society.” Marsden Wagner

Terri La Point’s obituary for her father Marsden Wagner and his contemporary David Chamberlain is a fond remembrance of two giants of the birth world who have sadly died within the same week. Link here. Not only was Wagner a tireless and joyful campaigner for birth rights, for 15 years he was at the heart of decision making as Director of Women’s and Children’s Health for the World Health Organization.

Gloria Lamay also copies an article from the Lancet, published in 1995 on the “witch hunt” against midwives. It’s a strong judgement on a system where a power imbalance and use of court cases and lobbying led to a system that didn’t work for women giving birth.

For a way to remember some of his sage advice, here is an article from Midwifery Today from 2000 with an outline of how technology has caused harms as well as progress.

“Remember, technology is not good or bad. How technology is used can be good or bad. Airplanes can be used to carry you to visit your family or can be used to drop bombs on women and children. How technology is used on you during pregnancy and birth is of great importance because it can help you and your baby or harm you and your baby.”

Wagner was a great resource to us who are birth campaigners and lactivists – endorsing our concerns about the medicalisation of birth promoting mother and baby centred care.  We will miss his work and his voice. His best legacy will be our voices continuing to raise the issues that he raised throughout his working life.