Feminist Bioethics: At the Center, on the Margins

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This volume considers the place of feminist bioethics within the broader international bioethics community.

Since its emergence two decades ago, the feminist perspective on bioethics has existed at the periphery of the discipline's mainstream. Concerns over reproduction and women's health issues—along with the concept that prevailing bioethical thought was fundamentally gendered—were largely subsumed by such overarching issues as the protection of research subjects and by theoretical and methodological frameworks derived from Kantian philosophy and practice-oriented principalism. Now feminist bioethics belongs to both the mainstream and the margins. The essays collected here explore the relation of feminist bioethics to mainstream bioethical thought and practice.

The first section looks at the current trajectory of feminist bioethics, its contributions to the mainstream, and how different types of feminism can inform and strengthen feminist bioethics. In the second section, contributors address autonomy, universalism, and trust to probe how feminist perspectives have altered bioethical theory. The third section examines such challenging issues as cancer genetics, childbirth, rape, and prenatal selection to demonstrate the effect of feminist bioethics on mainstream methodology. Contributors to the fourth section reflect on the relationship between feminist bioethical thought and the viewpoints of racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities, including people with disabilities.

Philosophically grounded, methodologically sound, and theoretically rigorous, this paradigm-challenging collection ponders the most dynamic areas of feminist inquiry into bioethical thought and practice and sketches future directions for this rapidly growing field.

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Editorial Reviews


The bite-sized accessible chapters would be useful in undergraduate or graduate courses as a source of readings, research, and presentation topics.

This collection successfully demonstrates that feminist bioethics has pushed bioethical questions beyond the doctor-patient relationship, and the articles in this volume serve as evidence of the influence feminist bioethics has on mainstream bioethics.

— Stephanie Jenkins

Signs - Stephanie Jenkins

This collection successfully demonstrates that feminist bioethics has pushed bioethical questions beyond the doctor-patient relationship, and the articles in this volume serve as evidence of the influence feminist bioethics has on mainstream bioethics.


The bite-sized accessible chapters would be useful in undergraduate or graduate courses as a source of readings, research, and presentation topics.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801894251
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 2/17/2010
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,125,726
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jackie Leach Scully, Ph.D., is a reader in social and bioethics at Newcastle University, where she is the director of research with the Policy, Ethics, and Life Sciences Research Centre. She is an honorary senior lecturer in the University of Sydney's Faculty of Medicine. Laurel E. Baldwin-Ragaven, M.D.C.M., is medical and executive director of the Malta House of Care in Hartford, Connecticut. Petya Fitzpatrick, M.A., is a health care researcher with the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors vii

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Part I Introduction to Feminist Bioethics Petya Fitzpatrick Jackie Leach Scully 1

1 The Expanding Landscape: Recent Directions in Feminist Bioethics Anne Donchin 11

2 “It Is Her Problem, Not Ours”: Contributions of Feminist Bioethics to the Mainstream Christoph Rehmann-Sutter 23

3 Broadening the Feminism in Feminist Bioethics Richard Twine 45

Part II Theory in Feminist Bioethics Petya Fitzpatrick Jackie Leach Scully 61

4 Conceptions of Autonomy and Conceptions of the Body in Bioethics Catriona Mackenzie 71

5 Trust, Method, and Moral Progress in Feminist Bioethics Jessica Prata Miller 91

6 The Right to Life: Rethinking Universalism in Bioethics Mary C. Rawlinson 107

Part III From Theory to Method Jackie Leach Scully 131

7 Bodies, Connectedness, and Knowledge: A Contextual Approach to Hereditary Cancer Genetics Lori D'Agincourt-Canning 139

8 Stories of Innocence and Experience: Bodily Narrative and Rape Fiona Utley 157

9 Where's the Harm? Challenging Bioethical Support of Prenatal Selection for Sexual Orientation Janice McLaughlin 174

10 Toward a Methodology for Technocratic Transformation: Feminist Bioethics, Midwifery, and Women's Health in the Twenty-first Century Al-Yasha Ilhaam Ina May Gaskin 190

Part IV Understanding Difference: Making and Breaking Connections within and Between the Margins Laurel E. Baldwin-Ragaven Jackie Leach Scully 207

11 The Difference Difference Makes: Public Health and the Complexities of Racial and Ethnic Differences Ruth Groenhout 221

12 Feminist Bioethics and Indigenous Research Reform in Australia: Is an Alliance across Gender, Racial, and Cultural Borders a Useful Strategy for Promoting Change? Jennifer Baker Terry Dunbar Margaret Scrimgeour 243

13 China's Birth Control Program through Feminist Lenses Jing-Bao Nie 257

14 A Feminist Standpoint on Disability: Our Bodies, Ourselves Mary B. Mahowald 278

Conclusion. Reassessment and Renewal Jackie Leach Scully 291

Index 301

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