Mother and Fetus: Changing Notions of Maternal Responsibility

Mother and Fetus: Changing Notions of Maternal Responsibility

Mother and Fetus: Changing Notions of Maternal Responsibility

Mother and Fetus: Changing Notions of Maternal Responsibility

Synopsis

No single area of medicine promises more acrimonious and intense debate in the coming decades than the implications of new medical technologies on the maternal-fetal relationships. This is the only book to combine comprehensive coverage of the legal and social issues raised as a result of both emerging technologies for fetal intervention and increasing knowledge of fetal development. It examines such issues as the effects of maternal behavior on the fetus's health, hazards in the workplace, teenage pregnancy, and the use of therapeutic and diagnostic techniques. The volume also summarizes the legal/political context of policies regarding the mother's responsibility for the welfare of the fetus and describes the current status of these issues in public law.

Excerpt

The relationship between a pregnant woman and the developing fetus is becoming an increasingly volatile and problematic social issue. The reasons for this include the diffusion of a wide array of prenatal diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, a growing understanding of the impact of maternal behavior on the health of the fetus, and an expanding variety of legal intrusions into what until recently was a private relationship. As a result, public concern for the fetus is putting social pressure on pregnant women to change behavior, accept medical intervention, and in some cases give up their preferred employment. Pregnant women increasingly have become targets of educational campaigns, discriminatory work place policies, and even criminal prosecution aimed at protecting the unborn.

This book examines the public policy dimensions of these changing notions of the relationship between mother and fetus. It describes in detail the changing legal context, both civil and criminal, as it affects the pregnant woman. It also critically analyzes current policy initiatives in the United States and attempts to provide useful suggestions for balancing the rights of the woman with the interests of the fetus. My view is that the current trends that tend to pit the mother against the fetus are counterproductive and do little to serve the interests of either the mother or the fetus. Although the challenges of maximizing fetal health without unduly constraining the rights of the pregnant woman remain daunting, hopefully this book will contribute to a rational dialogue that leads to enlightened policy.

Although many individuals have had an impact on this book, the contributions of a few warrant special acknowledgment. The manuscript was . . .

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