THE THOUGHTFUL ESSAYS in this book mark what I would characterize as an important advance in feminist political theory: feminist theory that focuses on politics and policy issues. The issues taken up here promise to be more and more prominent in feminist debates, and in public policy debates generally, as changes in technology spur changes in the way we think about fetuses and pregnant women. The debate over abortion that took place during the 1970s and 1980s is shifting and expanding. Rather than being framed in terms of women's choice and fetuses' right to life, current discussions are more about protecting fetuses from their mothers' drug and alcohol abuse, issues of maternal responsibility and fault, and the alienability of "services" women perform as birth mothers.
In some ways the concerns of the authors in this book represent the "traditional" concerns of feminist theory. They focus on the "private sphere," on the situation of women in the context of reproduction. The authors demonstrate, however, that pregnancy has become an increasing preoccupation of "public" policies and the focus of public attention and pressure. This book makes an important contribution by examining how these invasions take place. Some of the authors concentrate on the increasing commodification of life in late capitalism, for example in the case of surrogacy. Several suggest that surrogacy contracts represent the intrusion of the market and of contract law into human reproduction and the relationship between mother and fetus, two subjects formerly viewed as intimate, emotionally charged, and not for sale (see the essays by Shanley and Narayan). Others point out that maternal nurturance has always taken place under patriarchal pressures, suggesting that the gulf between reproduction under a surrogacy contract and that within a traditional marriage may not be as wide as we might like to believe ( Narayan). Thus, in an extension of the logic of late capitalism, the fetus can be seen as an object of property subject to contract laws or as a consumer good to be engineered to ensure the best possible "product" (see Richard's essay). Other authors trace the emergence of legal obligations to the unborn as well as the beginnings of a redefinition of pregnancy as an adversarial relation in which both parties have rights that may conflict (see essays by Condit, Strickland and Whicker, Johnson, and Bower). In their discussions, however, these authors raise questions that move beyond how state actions and policies affect pregnant women; these essays illuminate more gen-