At Women's Expense: State Power and the Politics of Fetal Rights

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Overview

Some say the fetus is the "tiniest citizen." If so, then the bodies of women themselves have become political arenas—or, recent cases suggest, battlefields; A cocaine—addicted mother is convicted of drug trafficking through the umbilical cord. Women employees at a battery plant must prove infertility to keep their jobs. A terminally ill woman is forced to undergo a cesarean section. No longer concerned with conception or motherhood, the new politics of fetal rights focuses on fertility and pregnancy itself, on a woman's relationship with the fetus. How exactly, Cynthia Daniels asks, does this affect a woman's rights? Are they different from a man's? And how has the state helped determine the difference? The answers, rigorously pursued throughout this book, give us a clear look into the state's paradoxical role in gender politics—as both a challenger of injustice and an agent of social control.

In benchmark legal cases concerned with forced medical treatment, fetal protectionism in the workplace, and drug and alcohol use and abuse, Daniels shows us state power at work in the struggle between fetal rights and women's rights. These cases raise critical questions about the impact of gender on women's standing as citizens, and about the relationship between state power and gender inequality. Fully appreciating the difficulties of each case, the author probes the subtleties of various positions and their implications for a deeper understanding of how a woman's reproductive capability affects her relationship to state power. In her analysis, the need to defend women's right to self—sovereignty becomes clear, but so does the need to define further the very concepts of self-sovereignty and privacy.

The intensity of the debate over fetal rights suggests the depth of the current gender crisis and the force of the feelings of social dislocation generated by reproductive politics. Breaking through the public mythology that clouds these debates, At Women's Expense makes a hopeful beginning toward liberating woman's body within the body politic.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Daniels (political science, Rutgers Univ.) explores fetal rights vs. women's rights, a controversial subject that increasingly has become an issue in the last decade. Divided into five essays, this book asks provocative questions that in a nutshell summarize the political debates and systematically answers them. A careful review of case law involving fetal rights and of the media's personification of the fetus and dehumanization of the woman is provided. Each chapter addresses a different scenario, ranging from forced medical treatment of pregnant women and protectionism in the workplace to the prosecution of pregnant addicts. Daniels is to be applauded for cutting to the heart of this controversial issue, exposing the backlash against women and offering solutions. An excellent legal treatise; recommended for any academic library.-- Paula N. Arnold, Norwich Univ. Lib., Northfield, Vt.
Booknews
A slim book which describes and probes the subtleties of some benchmark legal cases concerned with forced medical treatment, fetal protectionism in the workplace, and drug and alcohol use and abuse. These cases raise critical questions about the impact of gender on women's standing as citizens, and about the relationship between state power and gender inequality. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674050433
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Pages: 191
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia R. Daniels is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Fetal Rights, Gender Difference, and Political Power 1
1 Fetal Animation: The Political and Cultural Emergence of Fetal Rights 9
2 Bodily Integrity and Forced Medical Treatment: The Case of Angela Carder 31
3 From Protecting the Woman to Privileging the Fetus: The Case of Johnson Controls
4 The Politics of Vengeance: The Case of Jennifer Johnson 97
5 Toward a New Body Politics 133
Notes 151
Acknowledgments 175
Index 179
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