China is one of a few countries to reach the 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in fifteen years. The longstanding and intractable problem of maternal mortality in the Global North and South makes China's success all the more remarkable. This article examines relationships between China's reproductive health policies aimed at reducing maternal mortality and technological changes in managing childbirth associated with them from the early twentieth century to the present day. Tracing technological choices to prevent maternal deaths at junctures in the history of health-based reforms makes visible China's broader economic and political priorities in its internal modernization projects and in its interest in raising the nation's global standing. Finally, the consequences of state reproductive priorities emerging in recent years suggest that women's decisions to delay childbearing or to bear multiple children, may bring about circumstances increasing the risk of maternal death.


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pp. 617-644
Launched on MUSE
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