Expectant Israeli fathers and the medicalized pregnancy: Ambivalent compliance and critical pragmatism

Tsipy Ivry, Elly Teman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses the medicalization of pregnancy in Israel and its effects on the experiences of Jewish-Israeli men who participated in various stages of their female partners' prenatal care. The highly medicalized arena of Israeli prenatal care, with its strong emphasis on prenatal diagnostic testing, provided the context in which the men's accounts of their interactions with reproductive biomedical authority, practitioners and knowledge were understood. It is suggested that the anthropological scholarship on reproduction assumes that men benefit from the medicalization of pregnancy and birth and comply with medicalization. Women, on the other hand, are often depicted as being subjected to harmful medical surveillance and responding to it in degrees, ranging from compliance to resistance, and mediated by pragmatism. Data derived from participant observation in multiple arenas and from 16 in-depth interviews with Israeli men whose female partners were pregnant or had recently given birth suggest that although some Israeli men regard the biomedicalization of pregnancy positively, most tend toward varying degrees of criticism. It is suggested that men's responses to reproductive biomedicine are far more complex than portrayed to date in the existing scholarship and that men's responses to biomedicalization reveal complex power negotiations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-385
Number of pages28
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Biomedicine
  • Israel
  • Medicalization
  • Men
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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