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The Political Geographies of Pregnancy

The Political Geographies of Pregnancy

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Political Geographies of Pregnancy
    Book Description:

    Pregnancy indisputably takes place within a woman's body. But as reproductive power finds its way into the hands of medical professionals, lobbyists, and policymakers, the geographies of pregnancy are shifting, and the boundaries need to be redrawn, argues Laura R. Woliver. The Political Geographies of Pregnancy is a vigorous analysis of the ways modern reproductive politics are shaped by long-standing debates on abortion and adoption, surrogacy arrangements, new reproductive technologies, medical surveillance, and the mapping of the human genome. _x000B__x000B_Across a politically charged backdrop of reproductive issues, Woliver exposes strategies that claim to uphold the best interests of children, families, and women but in reality complicate women's struggles to have control over their own bodies. Utilizing feminist standpoint theory and promoting a feminist ethic of care, Woliver looks at abortion politics, modern adoption laws that cater to male-headed families, regulations that allow the state to monitor pregnant women but not always provide care for them, and the power structures behind the seemingly benign world of egg-selling and surrogate parenting. She also considers the potentially staggering political implications of mapping the human genome, and the exclusion of women's perspectives in discussions about legislation and advancements in reproductive technologies.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09294-7
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Feminist Praxis, Reproductive Powers, and Medical Models
    (pp. 1-26)

    The context in which women become mothers in Western societies is changing, reshaping and sharpening issues of power and control over women’s reproductive agency. Having babies and building families are being “enterprised up” in our times (Strathern, 1992). More money is being invested in reproductive technologies, the management of pregnancy and birth, and medicine aimed at the fetus. The investments, like all business transactions, are suppose to provide future profits and benefits. This book is an analysis of the broad spectrum of reproductive political issues, from abortion politics to surrogacy, the impact of the new reproductive technologies and cloning, adoption...

  5. 2 New Reproductive Technologies: Medicalizations of Pregnancy, Birth, Reproduction, and Infertility
    (pp. 27-44)

    New reproductive technologies are a modern “mixed blessing.” While they enhance choices for a few people, they might restrict options for most women and constrain women’s bodily autonomy. History has taught us that control of women’s bodies is often sold as being good for women. Behind seemingly benign, neutral, and objective scientific practices and research are often subtle systems of power. Murray Edelman (1977), for instance, reveals the way phrases implying progress, therapy, and empathy toward patients by mental health professionals disguise and justify systems of control and dominance. Similarly, modern feminists view medical and legal power in reproduction skeptically....

  6. 3 The Human Genome Project: Designer Genes
    (pp. 45-81)

    The Human Genome Project is a fifteen-year, $3 billion government project to catalog and analyze all of our genes. The project has generated a lot of controversy, debate, hopes, and fears. This chapter examines the social implications of mapping the human genome. Incorporating the Human Genome Project is central for analyzing the modern politics of reproduction and the impact of technological and medical power on people, especially women, making choices about their reproductive lives. Genetics is taking on an ideological quality, as well as being an embedded set of medical practices (B. Rothman, 1998; Lippman, 1998).

    Framing reproductive issues primarily...

  7. 4 Abortion Politics: Discourses on Lives
    (pp. 82-114)

    Abortion’s nitroglycerine political controversy has affected birth control, family planning, and women’s health politics deeply. Abortion’s public political emergence in the 1960s, as Donald Critchlow puts it, “transformed the politics of population and family planning policy” (1999: 113). Fetuses as metonyms take on powerful symbolic forms in our culture. The status of the fetus stands in for the problems independent, demanding, sexually active women allegedly cause in our society. They want “abortion on demand,” for instance, while not accepting responsibility for becoming pregnant in the first place. Legal abortion distills many perceived social problems onto misbehaving women.

    One dimension of...

  8. 5 Adoption and Surrogacy: Children as Commodities, Wombs for Rent
    (pp. 115-135)

    There is an amazing, glaring silence in the politics of motherhood: the voices of birthmothers are absent from policy-making, news coverage, and legal disputes. Whenever I mention the race, class, and nationalistic privileges and injustices on which modern adoption practices are based, I am sure to offend some people. Feminists rarely discuss adoption (Cornell, 1998: 96–99 and 1999; Solinger, 1992: 240, 246). We have published a lot about surrogacy, abortion, single mothers, and family law, but we seem to leave out adoption. I think this is because it hits too close to home. Many academic feminists have adopted children...

  9. 6 Social Controls and Reproductive Politics: Punitive Monitoring of Pregnant Women
    (pp. 136-154)

    The female body is easily deconstructed into its culturally significant parts and pieces, particularly when the womb is a metonym for the whole female body. The objectification of the pregnant body, as Anne Balsamo points out, “also supports the naturalization of the scientific management of fertilization, implantation, and pregnancy more broadly” (1996: 81). Colonized geographical areas, whether encompassing terrains of the earth or the terrain of a woman’s body, place decision making and control in the hands of outsiders. Colonized people do not control their own resources; their indigenous resources are extracted, exported, and expropriated for the benefit of the...

    (pp. 155-170)

    “We are all cyborgs now,” Donna Haraway asserts (1997: 12). The offspring of implosions of subjects and objects, blurred and blended boundaries between the natural and artificial, interwoven machines and organic bodies, economic markets and lives make up enhanced cyborg figures (Haraway, 1997: 14). “Artificial” machines and “natural” human boundaries become blurred in postmodern identities since, as Anne Balsamo points out, “cyborg identity is predicated on transgressed boundaries. They fascinate us because they are not like us and yet are just like us” (1996: 32). The problem is that technologies rapidly gut our ethics, and new procedures become rights (Elshtain,...

    (pp. 171-224)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 225-238)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-240)