This article explores the intersection between the professional politics of medicine and national politics during the second Palestinian uprising, which erupted in 2000. Through an analysis of stories about childbirth from actors in the birth process--obstetricians, midwives and birth mothers--it examines two overlapping movements that contributed to building the public health infrastructure, the movement of sumud or steadfastness (1967-87) and the popular health movement (1978-94), as well as their contemporary afterlife. Finally, it deals with relations between medicine and governance through an analysis of the interpenetration of medical and political authority. The birth stories bring to light two contrasting visions of a nation in the context of restrictions on mobility and a ground chopped up by checkpoints. The quasi-postcolonial condition of Palestine as popular construct, institutional protostate organism, and the lived experience of its experts and of its gendered subjects underlie the ethnographic accounts.