Policing Pregnancy : The Law and Ethics of Obstetric Conflict book cover
1st Edition

Policing Pregnancy
The Law and Ethics of Obstetric Conflict

ISBN 9781138257948
Published November 10, 2016 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

Are pregnant women entitled to the same rights of self-determination and bodily integrity as other adults? This is the fundamental question underlying recent high-profile legal interventions in situations when pregnant women and healthcare staff do not agree on management options or appropriate behaviour. Courts on both sides of the Atlantic have sometimes answered that they are not, and the law has at times been manipulated to enforce compliance with medical recommendations. This is the first book of its kind to offer a comprehensive assessment of healthcare law as applied to the unique situation of pregnancy. Drawing on case material from both the UK and the USA, it describes the trend towards 'policing pregnancy' and explores the emergence of the concept of 'maternal-foetal conflict' - and why, in the author's view, this would be more appropriately labelled 'obstetric conflict'. Suggestions are made for alternative approaches that better safeguard the overall well-being of pregnant women and their future children.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Pregnant women and the law; Power imbalance in Court; Is the law being used to enforce compliance with medical advice?; Undermining capacity to consent - another route to compliance; Questioning child welfare - protection or punishment?; Ongoing challenges to autonomy; Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

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Sheena Meredith has both a medical degree and a postgraduate qualification in law. She was recently awarded an M.Phil. in Law and Medical Ethics and is a Founder Fellow of the International Medical Law and Ethics Society. She has written or contributed to numerous books on health, medicine and the law for the general public, and has a longstanding interest in the treatment of pregnant women within various healthcare systems.


'The subject of the relationship between women and their embryos/foetuses has attracted considerable clinical, legal and ethical debate in recent years. This book is a timely and clear analysis of this important topic, and draws on material from a number of jurisdictions to evaluate the legal response to what has become known as maternal/foetal conflict.' Professor Sheila McLean, University of Glasgow, UK '...offers a comprehensive assessment of healthcare law by drawing on material from both the UK and the US...important and thought-provoking reading for healthcare professionals involved in all stages of pregnancy and child birth.' childRIGHT 'This book takes a firm, wide-ranging look at law relating to pregnant women...I find Meredith's analysis and arguments persuasive. This book illuminates the past and will prepare everyone with an interest in pregnancy ethics and law for future conflicts.' Medical Law Review