Values-based Practice in Childbirth Network

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Stella Villarmea

VBP Profile: Stella Villarmea

Stella Villarmea is Professor of Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid. She currently does research on the philosophy of birth and how our notions of childbirth reflect our view of the human being. She is interested in conceptual innovation and the relationship between knowledge and emancipatory action. She has also worked on epistemology for example Wittgenstein and scepticism, philosophy of feminism (e.g., Haraway and Levinas), and meta-philosophy (e.g., Moore and Kant).

VOICEs EU Research Programme – Controversies in Childbirth 

Marie S. Curie Research Project – Controversies in Childbirth: from Epistemology to Practices (VOICEs)
Faculty of Philosophy/The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice at St Catherine´s College University of Oxford

The project ‘Controversies in Childbirth: from Epistemology to Practices (VOICEs)’ addresses a number of current debates on birth from engaged areas of philosophy and the medical humanities.

The project was supported by the European Union´s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 787646 Controversies in Childbirth: from Epistemology to Practices (VOICEs)

Read more:

Further detail: Controversies in Childbirth: from Epistemology to Practices
Summary and result:

Key Links:

PHILBIRTH UCM Professorship of Excellence Programme – Philosophy of Birth (PHILBIRTH-II)

Philosophy of Birth: A New Logos for Genos (FILNAC-II)
Professorship of Excellence Research Programme Echegaray CM-UCM

Complutense University of Madrid

This project is about why and how we should introduce birth into the canon of subjects explored by philosophy. Birth care brings to the fore fascinating philosophical questions: is a woman in labour a subject with full rights in practice as well as in theory? Can a labouring woman exercise her autonomy in a situation of maximum vulnerability but also maximum lucidity and awareness, as characterises the work of giving birth? What is the relationship between agency, capacity, and pain during and between contractions? Birth care proposes key questions relating to knowledge, freedom, and what it means to be a human being. Nonetheless, giving birth continues to be a blind spot in contemporary prevailing philosophy.

The project is supported by the Echegaray, CM-UCM and V-PRICIT Programme, Madrid.

Values-based Practice in Childbirth – Key Publications

There is now a growing range of publications highlighting issues of values around the management of childbirth. The following is a selection of publications arising from the VOICEs Project:

A Philosophy of Birth: If you Want to Change the World, Change the Conversation” (2021)

Women frequently have their rights breached during childbirth, and we need to know why this happens before we can fix it effectively. I take an innovative approach to explaining how we can protect women´s rights during childbirth.

The emerging area of philosophy of birth is invaluable, first, to diagnose fallacious assumptions about the relation between the womb and reason, and, ultimately, to challenge potentially damaging narratives with major impact on birth care. 

The philosophical analysis of the history that precedes us adds an illuminating dimension to explain vaginal examinations without consent during labour.

This paper contributes to the recognition of obstetric violence as a human rights violation. It offers conceptual tools to diagnose the impact of gender stereotypes during childbirth and to eliminate women’s discrimination in the field of reproductive health.

While pregnant women and women in labour are autonomous and in full capacity citizens according to the law, they are not always considered as such in clinical practice. I explore what the tension between the law and the practice exactly is.

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