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The Political Geographies of Pregnancy

A searing study of how modern reproductive politics shapes women's bodily agency

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.

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.

"Neatly reviews many of the major dramas and dilemmas that, thirty years after the federalization of women's 'choice,' continue to bedevil policymakers and ordinary people. But it also moved me, and will move others, to wake up and test its conclusions."--Rickie Solinger, Women's Review of Books

"The Political Geographies of Pregnancy is an important challenge to the rush to accept technological breakthroughs as progress. It depends on how they are practiced and who has authority."--Barbara Burrell, Rhetoric and Public Affairs

Laura R. Woliver is a professor of political science and women's studies at the University of South Carolina. She is the author of From Outrage to Action: The Politics of Grass Roots Dissent.

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