An interesting piece, addressing what was a great controversy, with people hotly on one side or another, as male physicians encroached on the world of childbirth. Additional information and sources under the image. Click for full size.
The text reads:
“A Man-Mid-Wife, or a newly discover’d animal, not Known in Buffon’s time; for a more full description or this monster, see, an ingenious book, lately published, price 3/6 entitled Man-Midwifery dissected, containing a variety of well-authenticated cases elucidating this animals Propensities to cruelty & indecency sold by the publisher of this Print who has presented the author with the above [illustration] for the Frontispiece to his Book.”
From the same source:
This etching illustrated a book criticizing (male) physician birth attendants–“man midwives”–today’s obstetricians. The etching shows a figure that is male on one side, female on the other. The male half stands on a plain wood floor next to a large mortar and pestle, holding an instrument labeled a “lever” in his hand, which is pressed against his thigh. The background seems to be a shop, with shelves lined with vials, bottles, and frightening looking instruments labeled “forceps,” “boring scissors,” and “blunt book.”
In contrast, the female half of the figure stands in a homey room on a decoratively carpeted floor; in her outstretched hand she holds a small cup. Behind her, a fire burns in a grate.
You can read a fair amount of what was written in the 18th century by people on both the pro- and anti- sides here.
Hugh Chamberlen, as well as being a physician, was also a speculative businessman, and when his proposed business dealings failed, his creditors forced him to flee abroad. With his credibility damaged, he was lampooned in verse in 1699 in Hue and Cry After a Man-Midwife, Who has Lately Deliver’d the Land-Bank of their Money. It was noted that ‘great belly’d ladies have mighty respect for’ the man-midwife, demonstrating that the fashion for men-midwives commenced in the seventeenth century and was not just an eighteenth century phenomenon. The verse also alluded to the outrage that was displayed in some quarters by opponents of men-midwives, ‘Among his profession he’s fam’d as a topper, By some call’d a midwife, by others a groper,’ hinting at sexual improprieties that the man-midwife could commit once alone with vulnerable females.
Public suspicion of the medical profession ran deep in the eighteenth century, in part due to the non-secular society believing that decaying bodies tainted the men who practiced medicine, but also, medicine was considered the least prestigious of the professions and the physicians’ failure to cure illness and stave off death impacted the public’s perception of them. The man-midwifery profession was further disparaged after several eminent London men-midwives supported Mary Tofts, who in the 1720s claimed to have given birth to a litter of rabbits. The absurdity of their support of Tofts in her fraudulent claim led to professional ridicule. Not only were the men of the medical profession considered asinine for agreeing with Tofts’ wild claims, there was a growing suspicion of the practitioner as a ‘corrupter of morals, a threat to female modesty and even as a libertine.’
Blunt’s book, Man-midwifery dissected ; or, the obstetric family-instructor : In fourteen letters, is available to read at the Internet Archive. You can also see the above image properly coloured as the frontispiece of the book.