Policing the Womb
Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood
by Michele Goodwin
“Policing The Womb is the roadmap we need RIGHT NOW to understand how to navigate the sandstorm of laws being created to claim ownership of our bodies. It brilliantly lays out all the ways politicians and the medical community are removing pregnant people from the most important decisions we will make about how best to manage our reproductive lives.” – Lizz Winstead, Co-Creator of the Daily Show, Founder/Chief Creative Officer: Abortion Access Front
Policing The Womb brings to life the chilling ways in which women have become the targets of secretive state surveillance of their pregnancies. Michele Goodwin expands the reproductive health and rights debate beyond abortion to include how legislators increasingly turn to criminalizing women for miscarriages, stillbirths, and threatening the health of their pregnancies. The horrific results include women giving birth while shackled in leg irons, in solitary confinement, and even delivering in prison toilets. In some states, pregnancy has become a bargaining chip with prosecutors offering reduced sentences in exchange for women agreeing to be sterilized. The author shows how prosecutors may abuse laws and infringe women’s rights in the process, sometimes with the complicity of medical providers who disclose private patient information to law enforcement. Often the women most affected are poor and of color. Goodwin warns, however, poor women are simply the canaries in the coalmine as some legislators now claim that women’s constitutional rights equal that of embryos and fetuses. In this timely book, Michele Goodwin brings to light how the unrestrained efforts to punish and police women’s reproduction has led to the United States being the deadliest country in the developed world for pregnant women.
Hardcover | 334 pages | Cambridge University Press | 2020