The Hidden Malpractice: How American Medicine Mistreats Women as Patients and Professionals

Published by HarperCollins, New York.


A line from the poem “People” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, read as a teenager and never forgotten, permeates this and all my books: “Not people die but worlds die in them.” The knowledge that each human being is huge, complex, unique, and of infinite worth guides my writing.

Researching in the obstetrics-gynecology and reproductive technology literature for my books, I saw women reduced to minuscule aspects of themselves in which they were no longer recognizable. A woman was a “reproductive vehicle,” “clinical material,” in menopause “living decay,” in the AIDS epidemic a “vector of disease.” I knew this was not so. I knew that women were richer and more powerful beings than those male medicine portrayed us as. 

For The Hidden Malpractice, I studied the current obstetrical and gynecological literature; interviewed more than 80 physicians, patients, sociologists, nurses, midwives; and conducted historical research on female physicians in the United States and the 19th century Popular Health Movement using collections of documents at the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, Harvard University and Tulane Medical School.  

Reviews emphasized the thoroughness of the research and ground-breaking nature of the book. 

The New York Times Review of Books described this book as a “massively researched…enormously impressive work… [exhibiting] polemical brilliance” and selected The Hidden Malpractice for its "Editor's Choice" list for the year 1977.   

American Medical News termed The Hidden Malpractice an “intelligent, solidly documented expose.” 

Almost a decade after its publication, The New Our Bodies, Ourselves stated that The Hidden Malpractice “remains the most stunning investigative journalism extant on American medicine’s shameful history toward women.”

Read more about my other books, The Invisible Epidemic , The Mother Machine, and Anthologies.