Ina May and Stephen Gaskin on Midwives, The Farm and Being “Technicolor Amish”

Ina May and Stephen Gaskin on Midwives, The Farm and Being “Technicolor Amish”

Ina May and Stephen Gaskin Talk With Lisa Reagan

From the Editor

Photo by Lisa Reagan
Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin on the Diane Rehm Show

July 1, 2014

I am so very sad to hear of Stephen Gaskin’s passing today. I met Stephen a number of times over the years. My fondest memory is before we filmed the interviews below at the The Diane Rehm Show in Washington, DC, in 2011. The show’s assistant took our group aside in the hallway and gave us a stern talking to about how they had rock stars film in their conference room in the past and it didn’t turn out well. They were worried about OUR group filming in there. I was confused and then it hit me and I pointed to Stephen, “Oh, you’re worried about THIS guy!” Stephen’s deep laughter broke the tense rule-enforcer’s mood. We moved into the conference room for the rest of the day and captured a lovely and rare talk between Ina May Gaskin and Stephen about their long history together that began, as Stephen says, as “technicolor Amish.”
My deepest sympathy to Ina May, and prayers for a smooth transition to Stephen. 

Here is Stephen’s obituary in The Tennessean.

Lisa Reagan

About the Video

Ina May Gaskin and Lisa Reagan
Karen Brody, Stephen and Ina May Gaskin, and Lisa Reagan

Ina May Gaskin, the Godmother of Modern Midwifery, and her husband, Stephen Gaskin, founder of Plenty International, talked to Lisa Reagan in Washington, DC, in July 2011 about birth, midwives, The Farm, and being “Technicolor Amish”.  The interview was filmed after the broadcast interview with Ina May to the 2.2 million listeners of The Diane Rehm Show. (Lisa Reagan, Kindred’s executive editor, is pictured with Stephen and Ina May at WAMU radio station on the right of this page.)

This intimate and memorable discussion between Ina May and Stephen, who have been together for more than 30 years, includes Stephen sharing his advice to men to “act like knights” and “pledge your sword to a lady. Protect those who need protecting.” Ina May and Stephen remember the trucks on The Farm, why midwives are the best drivers and conversations with international physicians who have advocated for natural birth as a human right.

In this video, photographers like Robert Altman and David Frohman, chroniclers of the 1960s movement and The Farm history, show “professor” Stephen Gaskin talking to a group of 1500 young people about what was going on in their radically changing world. From The Farm’s website:

Stephen would say, “Lets talk about how we’re gonna be.” Not “how we’re gonna stop the war” or “how we’re gonna make it fair,” but “how we’re gonna be.”

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In 1970, a group of “hippies” following Stephen and his teachings set out to find a place to live according to their beliefs in the famous Caravan (pictured in the video) of 60 buses.  The caravan  founded The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee.  It was her life at The Farm that inspired Ina May Gaskin to become a midwife and write her seminal work, Spiritual Midwifery.

Ina May went on to become a founder of the Midwives’ Alliance of North America and the Godmother of Modern Midwifery. A powerful advocate for a woman’s right to give birth without excessive and unnecessary medical intervention, her clinical midwifery skills have been developed entirely through independent study and apprenticeship with other midwives around the world. Ina May and fellow Farm midwives were instrumental in the development of the rigorous Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certification process.

Currently, Ina May travels internationally on speaking engagements and networking with other midwives and midwife alliances.  She was presented the Right Livelihood Award in Sweden in December 2011. Stephen was the first recipient of the award in 1980. The award is considered to be the “alternative Nobel prize”.

More Interviews and Articles With Ina May Gaskin

Kindred Text

Watch Ina May’s acceptance speech for the Right Livelihood Award here.

Read an interview with Ina May by Lisa Reagan here.

Read Ina May onKindred here.

Visit Ina May and Stephen at The Farm or at Plenty International.

Photos used with permission. Thanks goes to David Frohman, Gerald Wheeler, Robert Altman and the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

  1. Ava Philippus says

    My first exposure to these two. A gentle and informative story. I will send good energy to them.

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