Symposium, Special Event, Online Video     

Regulating Birth in Oregon

On Tuesday, November 17, 2015 the Oregon Historical Quarterly, in collaboration with Dr. Christin Hancock of the University of Portland, presented a symposium to promote scholarship on the broad subject of regulating birth, including from legal, social, political, religious, and cultural perspectives. The Summer 2016 issue of the Quarterly draws from the scholarship presented.


10:15am – 11am

'We Were Privileged in Oregon …': A Pragmatic Approach to Reproductive Politics

By Sadie A. Adams

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11am – 11:45am

Termination Policy, Klamath Women, and Birth

By Christi Hancock

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11:45am – 1pm

Lunch / Break

Lunch is included with registration fee.

1pm – 2:15pm

Birth Activism, Law, and the Organization of Independent Midwifery in Oregon, 1975–1992

By Bruce Hoffman

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2:15pm - 3:15pm

Oregon Midwives Panel

Featuring Holly Scholles, MA, CPM, LDM, Mary Solares, Sarah Taylor

As part of the Oregon Historical Quarterly's symposium on "Regulating Birth in Oregon," longtime midwives Sarah Taylor, Mary Solares, and Holly Scholles will offer their unique memories and perspectives on this valuable history. Topics they will address include founding the Oregon Midwifery Council , founding Birthingway College of Midwifery , passing the initial midwifery licensing bill in Oregon, and making amendments to public policy related to midwifery.

Holly Scholles' experiences as a mother, anthropologist, midwife, educator, and activist have shaped her life work. She is a homebirth mom with 39 years of experience as an out-of-hospital midwife in mostly rural settings. She is the president of Birthingway College of Midwifery, which she founded in 1993, and has held leadership roles in the Oregon Board of Direct Entry Midwifery, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, the Oregon Midwifery Council, and the Association of Texas Midwives.

Sarah Taylor began her career as a direct entry midwife in 1977 after observing the impact of prenatal well-being on children in her HeadStart centers. In addition to helping over two thousand mothers give birth in Oregon, she has operated a free prenatal clinic in Portland. After adopting refugee children from Cambodia and Vietnam, she decided to provide education and support to midwives working in low resource settings. Currently, she is helping to open a birth center in rural Haiti.

Mary Solares attended over 600 homebirths during her 25 year career as a direct entry midwife. In 1977 she graduated from the Northwest School of Practical  Midwifery. She and a group of midwives and birth activists opened the Portland Birth Center in l978. Mary was a founding member of the Cascade Midwives Association, a Portland based peer group. She also helped to found the Oregon Midwifery Council for which she served as President. Mary later worked to gain passage of a bill to legalize “direct entry” midwives in Oregon in 1993.

3:30pm - 4:15pm

"Genetic Decisions: Down syndrome, Genetics, and Childbearing in Oregon and the United States, 1950-1980"

By Adam Turner

"Genetic Decisions" looks at a segment of the history of genetic counseling in Oregon to explore the relationship between medical genetics and disability, with special attention to reproductive decision-making and understandings of disability and disease. This paper highlights the intersections between local, and profoundly personal, questions of family and childbearing with the national growth of genetics, prenatal testing, and disability advocacy. As regulators, policy makers, doctors, activists, and everyday Americans continue to wrestle with the appropriateness of techniques like human germ-line modification or prenatal testing and selective abortion, it is valuable to look at the history of these debates.

Adam Turner is a doctoral candidate and graduate teaching fellow in the Department of History at the University of Oregon. His current project traces the history of genetic counseling as it relates to disability and reproduction. He is also a co-founder, regular writer, and the layout editor of the history, medicine, and gender website Nursing Clio.

4:15pm - 7pm


Note that the Oregon Historical Society will close from 5pm - 6:30pm in preparation for the keynote lecture.

7pm - 8:30pm

Regulating Birth in Oregon: Keynote Lecture

Free and open to the public

By Shafia M. Monroe, DEM, CDT, MPH
With Maria Taylor, Consuelo Vazquez and Zalayshia Jackson

Shafia M. Monroe became a Direct-Entry Midwife in the 1970s and began studying the history of the African American/Black midwife, using oral histories, articles, and biographies. In 1991, she founded the International Center for Traditional Childbearing in Portland, Oregon, as the first international Black midwives professional and infant mortality prevention non-profit organization. In 2002, she developed the ICTC Full Circle Doula Birth Companion training program and has since trained over 1,600 doulas, with one-third becoming midwives. She is a member of the Oregon HB2666 committee for postpartum depression service and the National Coalition for Quality, and is a wife, a mother of seven children, a grandmother of nine, and community mother of many.



Special Thanks to the Following Contributors to this Exhibit

  • City of Portland Archives
  • North Portland Multimedia Center
  • The Oregonian Archives
  • Oregon Historical Society Davies Family Research Library
  • Oregon State University Archives
  • Portland State University Rutherford Collection
  • Thomas Robinson