Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women's Reproduction in America [NOOK Book]


Winner of the 2010 Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association; Sex and Gender Section

The Real Issue behind the Abortion Debate
An op-ed by Jeanne Flavin in the San Francisco Chronicle

2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The intense policing of women's reproductive capacity places women's health and human rights in great peril. Poor women are ...

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Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women's Reproduction in America

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Winner of the 2010 Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association; Sex and Gender Section

The Real Issue behind the Abortion Debate
An op-ed by Jeanne Flavin in the San Francisco Chronicle

2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The intense policing of women's reproductive capacity places women's health and human rights in great peril. Poor women are pressured to undergo sterilization. Women addicted to illicit drugs risk arrest for carrying their pregnancies to term. Courts, child welfare, and law enforcement agencies fail to recognize the efforts of battered and incarcerated women to care for their children. Pregnant inmates are subject to inhumane practices such as shackling during labor and poor prenatal care. And decades after Roe, the criminalization of certain procedures and regulation of abortion providers still obstruct women’s access to safe and private abortions.

In this important work, Jeanne Flavin looks beyond abortion to document how the law and the criminal justice system police women’s rights to conceive, to be pregnant, and to raise their children. Through vivid and disturbing case studies, Flavin shows how the state seeks to establish what a "good woman" and "fit mother" should look like and whose reproduction is valued. With a stirring conclusion that calls for broad-based measures that strengthen women’s economic position , choice-making, autonomy, sexual freedom, and health care, Our Bodies, Our Crimes is a battle cry for all women in their fight to be fully recognized as human beings. At its heart, this book is about the right of a woman to be a healthy and valued member of society independent of how or whether she reproduces.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Author and sociologist Flavin (Class, Race, Gender and Crime) turns with typical vigor and abundant research to the subject of women's reproductive rights. Taking a historical perspective, Flavin outlines a set of progressive arguments focusing on abortion and family planning, the parental rights of incarcerated women, and "structural barriers posed by our drug laws and child welfare policies that disproportionately and adversely affect poor and minority women." Flavin's text faces tough issues head on from a viewpoint somewhere to the left of liberal, and her passion for women's rights makes a powerful narrative engine. Bolstered by quotes and firsthand accounts, Flavin delivers eye-opening reports on topics including abortion rights, infant abandonment and battered women, detailing little-noticed or taken-for-granted policies that restrict and remand women. Written in a flowing academic style, Flavin's attention to historical detail and unfailing moral compass make her progressive reexamination of women's rights thorough and convincing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

"Flavin set out to examine the policing of women's reproduction in various contexts, and she succeeds in doing so with a text that is exceptionally well researched and written in a style that is both readable and eloquent. This book would make a fine addition to a course dedicated to social-justice issues in women's lives."-Feminist Formations,

“Illuminates the dark corners of a public polity that holds pregnant women accountable for all aspects and outcomes of their reproduction without offering the compassion, education, or control necessary to produce happy endings—or beginnings.”
-Jennifer Reich,author of Fixing Families: Parents, Power, and the Child Welfare System

“At last, a book that recognizes that reproductive rights encompass more than abortion rights. Our Bodies, Our Crimes covers all of the essential and highly controversial topics regarding the intersection of reproductive rights and criminal justice.”
-Claire M. Renzetti,co-author of Women, Men, and Society

Our Bodies, Our Crimes is a beautifully written and well researched book that makes an original and important contribution to the emerging social science literature on reproductive politics. I strongly recommend it.”
-Carole Joffe,author of Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion before and after Roe v Wade

Our Bodies, Our Crimes is one of the most compelling books I've read in recent years. Flavin’s writing is exquisite and her documentation is careful and thorough. Whether informing the reader about reproductive freedom, battered women, or incarcerated women, she does so even-handedly and ably captures the complexities and depravities that real women and girls encounter every day in this country. Flavin draws on high profile cases, unknown cases, laws, policies, history, criminology research and much more to explain how her cases are decided by race, gender, class, and sexuality. Her book will help students, legal professionals, gender and legal scholars, and lay people to understand the common themes and threads of violence against women and girls and the sexism, racism, and classism in labeling girls and women deviant and criminals.”
-Joanne Belknap,author of The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime, and Justice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814727553
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 662,478
  • File size: 877 KB

Meet the Author

Jeanne Flavin is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Fordham University and co-editor of Race, Gender, and Punishment: From Colonialism to the War on Terror. She is also a member of the board of directors for National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), a non-profit organization which protects the civil rights of women. Proceeds from this book will be shared with NAPW.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Beginning

1 "Race Criminals": Reproductive Rights in America 11

Part II Begetting

2 "Breeders": The Right to Procreate 29

3 "Back-Alley Butchers": Terminating Pregnancies 51

4 "Baby-Killers": Neonaticide and Infant Abandonment 74

Part III Bearing

5 "Innocent Preborn Victims": Fetal Protectionism and Pregnant Women 95

6 "Liars and Whiners": Incarcerated Women's Right to Reproductive Health 119

Part IV Mothering

7 "Bad Mothers": Incarcerated Women's Ties to Their Children 139

8 "Asking for It": Battered Women and Child Custody 164

Conclusion: Being 182

Notes 191

Bibliography 263

Acknowledgments 297

Index 299

About the Author 307

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