How Cesarean Births Became a ‘Global Epidemic’

Reliance on New Obstetric Technology and Lawsuit-Averse Doctors Made Traditional Birth Seem More Risky Than C-Sections

Zócalo’s editors are diving into our archives and throwing it back to some of our favorite pieces. This week: We’re resharing medical historian Jacqueline H. Wolf’s piece on how the cesarean section (C-section) became mainstream in anticipation of our event this Thursday, “Can California Lead a New Reproductive Rights Movement?” Register here.

Almost one in three births in the United States today is by cesarean section—a dramatic change from a century ago when physicians avoided the surgery whenever possible. Doctors remained so wary of the …