Childbirth, Vulnerability and Law: Exploring Issues of Violence and Control, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Childbirth, Vulnerability and Law

Exploring Issues of Violence and Control, 1st Edition

Edited by Jonathan Herring, Camilla Pickles


280 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138335493
pub: 2019-09-05
Available for pre-order

FREE Standard Shipping!


This book is inspired by a statement released by the World Health Organization directed at preventing and eliminating disrespectful and abusive treatment during facility-based childbirth.

Exploring the nature of vulnerability during childbirth, and the factors which make childbirth a site for violence and control, the book looks at the role of law in the regulation of professional intervention in childbirth. The WHO statement and other published work on ‘mistreatment’, ‘obstetric violence’, ‘birth trauma’, ‘birth rape’, and ‘dehumanised care’ all point to the presence of vulnerability, violence and control in childbirth. This collected edition explores these issues in the experience of those giving birth, and for those providing obstetric services. It further offers insights regarding legal avenues of redress in the context of this emerging area of concern. Using violence, vulnerability and control as a lens through which to consider multiple facets of the law, the book brings together innovative research from an interdisciplinary selection of authors.

The book will appeal to scholars of law and legal academics, specifically in relation to tort, criminal law, medical law, and human rights. It will also be of interest to postgraduate scholars of medical ethics and those concerned with gender studies more broadly.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction Camilla Pickles and Jonathan Herring

Chapter one: ‘"Amigas, sisters: We are being gaslighted": Obstetric violence and epistemic injustice’ Sara Cohen Shabot

Chapter two: ‘Practices of silencing: Birth, marginality and epistemic violence’ Rachelle Chadwick

Chapter three: ‘Posttraumatic stress disorder following childbirth’ Antje Horsch and Susan Garthus-Niegel

Chapter four: ‘Identifying the wrong in obstetric violence: Lessons from domestic abuse’ Jonathan Herring

Chapter five: ‘Midwives and midwifery: The need for courage to reclaim vocation for respectful care’ Soo Downe and Nancy Stone

Chapter six: ‘Health system accountability in South Africa: A driver of violence against women’ Jessica Rucell

Chapter seven: ‘Human rights law and challenging dehumanisation in childbirth: A practitioner’s perspective’ Elizabeth Prochaska:

Chapter eight: ‘Leaving women behind: The application of evidence-based guidelines, law, and obstetric violence by omission’ Camilla Pickles

Chapter nine: ‘Childbirth, consent, and information about options and risks’ Lisa Forsberg

Chapter ten: ‘Court authorised obstetric intervention: Insight and capacity, a tale of loss’ Samantha Halliday

Chapter eleven: ‘Understanding obstetric violence through a fiduciary lens’ Elizabeth Kukura

Chapter twelve: ‘Reflections on criminalising obstetric violence – A feminist perspective’ Karen Brennan

Afterword Emily Jackson


About the Editors

Professor Jonathan Herring is a DM Wolfe-Clarendon Fellow in Law and the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford. He works on themes related to criminal, family and medical law and focuses on exploring how the law interacts with the important things in life such as love, family, friendship, and intimacy. Aside from authoring leading texts on criminal, medical and family law, Jonathan regularly contributes to larger, challenging debates; some of his most recent contributions can be found in Vulnerability, Childhood and the Law, Aging, Gender and Family Law, and Identity, Personhood and the Law.

Dr Camilla Pickles is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. She explores issues related to pregnancy and childbirth and has explored themes including abortion, obstetric violence, foetal personhood, involuntary sterilisations, and human rights within the contexts of pregnancy continuation and during labour and childbirth. She is currently leading a project titled, ‘Obstetric Violence and the Law’, and is the author of several contributions, the most recent being Pregnancy Law in South Africa: Between Reproductive Autonomy and Foetal Interests.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HEALTH & FITNESS / Pregnancy & Childbirth
LAW / General
LAW / Health
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues