05/23/2012 12:43 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2012

Ina May Gaskin And The Battle For At-Home Births

One Monday morning last spring, Ina May Gaskin got into her golf cart and drove it down the dirt road away from her home on the Farm, a community of 175 residents on a former commune in rural Tennessee that her husband started in the 1970s. She pulled up to the community center, where she would be teaching a class on delivering breech babies. The class was part of a weeklong seminar Gaskin and her fellow midwives were offering to an eclectic group: nurse-midwifery students attending for college credit; a Boston-area family-practice doctor; midwives from around the country; and one, from Australia, who went by the one-word moniker Macca. They had traveled to this corner of southern Tennessee to learn from the founding mother of the natural-birth movement.