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The Political Geographies of Pregnancy

Laura R. Woliver

Publication Year: 2002

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. 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 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.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Once again, the University of Illinois Press has welcomed my multidisciplinary, boundary-violating work. Richard Martin’s support for work like mine (feminist, theoretical, empirical, eclectic, difficult to pigeonhole) is a refreshing reminder of tp ideals of intellectual curiosity and expanded visions. The reviewers he selected for this book helped...

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1. Feminist Praxis, Reproductive Powers, and Medical Models

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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...

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2. New Reproductive Technologies: Medicalizations of Pregnancy, Birth, Reproduction, and Infertility

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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...

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3. The Human Genome Project: Designer Genes

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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...

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4. Abortion Politics: Discourses on Lives

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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...

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5. Adoption and Surrogacy: Children as Commodities, Wombs for Rent

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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...

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6. Social Controls and Reproductive Politics: Punitive Monitoring of Pregnant Women

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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). ...

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Conclusion: The Changing Geographies of Motherhood and Reproduction

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pp. 155-169

“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...


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pp. 171-224


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pp. 225-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092947
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252075971

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2002