Policing the Womb

Organised by the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto 

Speaker: Dr. Michele Goodwin will present research from her recent book, Policing the Womb.

Abstract:

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. This timely book brings to light how the unrestrained efforts to punish and police women’s bodies have led to the United States being the deadliest country in the developed world to be pregnant.

Dr. Michele Bratcher Goodwin is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine and founding director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. She is the recipient of the 2020-21 Distinguished Senior Faculty Award for Research, the highest honor bestowed by the University of California. She is also the first law professor at the University of California, Irvine to receive this award. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute as well as an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Hastings Center (the organization central to the founding of bioethics). She is an American Law Institute Adviser for the Restatement Third of Torts: Remedies.

Commentator: Olivia Berkovits, PhD Student, CrimSL

Moderator: Dr. Catherine Evans, Assistant Professor, CrimSL

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