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Vol 23 No 1 Jan/Feb 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of The Law of Privilege

The Law of Privilege

Edited by: Bankim Thanki
Price: £195.00

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Making Women Pay

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Rachel RothAssistant Professor of Political Science and Women's Studies, Washington University, St Louis, USA

ISBN13: 9780801488801
ISBN: 080148880X
Published: July 2005
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Format: Paperback
Price: £22.95

Once backed primarily by anti-abortion activists, foetal rights claims are now promoted by a wide range of interest groups in American society. Government and corporate policies to define and enforce foetal rights have become commonplace. These developments affect all women - pregnant or not - because women are considered ""potentially pregnant"" for much of their lives. In this text, Rachel Roth brings a new perspective to the debate over foetal rights. She clearly delineates the threat to women's equality posed by the new concept of ""maternal-foetal conflict"", an idea central to the foetal rights movement in which women and foetuses are seen as having interests that are diametrically opposed.;Roth begins by placing foetal rights politics in historical and comparative context and by tracing the emergence of the notion of foetal rights. Against a backdrop of stories about actual women, she reviews the difficulties foetal rights claims create for women in the areas of employment, health care and drug and alcohol regulation. She looks at court cases and state legislation over a period of two decades beginning in 1973, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Her exhaustive research shows how judicial decisions and public policies that grant foetuses rights tend to displace women as claimants, as recipients of needed services and ultimately as citizens.;When a corporation, medical authority or the state asserts or accepts rights claims on behalf of a foetus, the usual justification involves improving the chance of a healthy birth. This strategy, Roth persuasively argues, is not necessary to achieve the goal of a healthy birth, is often counterproductive to it and always undermines women's equal standing.

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