Expecting Trouble: Surrogacy, Fetal Abuse, and New Reproductive Technologies

By Patricia Boling | Go to book overview

8
The Trope of the Dark Continent
in the Fetal Harm Debates:
"Africanism" and the Right to Choice'

LISA C. BOWER

THIS CHAPTER EXPLORES how the fetal harm debate is sustained by a tropological dependence on race. In this debate, the focus on the substance-abusing mother-who is frequently described as single, black, and deficient -- suggests how perceptions about fetal abuse are supported by the trope of the dark continent, the notion that female sexuality is a dark and unexplored territory. Rhetorically, this trope is constructed by a metonymic chain that links disease, sexuality, female sexuality, and racial otherness.

The trope of the dark continent is mirrored in representations of race or what Toni Morrison has recently referred to as "Africanism." 1 To explore how race is suppressed and expressed in this debate, this chapter considers problems raised by conventional defenses of substance-abusing pregnant women, specifically defenses that rest upon the language of reproductive rights. Concerns about surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and new reproductive technologies have, in conjunction with the doctrinal unravelling of Roe v. Wade, generated justifiable alarm regarding women's ability to control their reproductive futures. For some feminists, the erosion of reproductive autonomy provides an opportunity to rethink the contours and limitations of the right to privacy, the doctrinal principle animating the right to choice. 2 Others have reasserted the intimate connection between mother and fetus as an antidote to fetal rights advocates who claim the primacy of the rights of the fetus. Drawing on Carol Gilligan's work, one variant of this theme posits that women's close physical and psychological relationship to the fetus constitutes a distinctive "moral vision" that supports the importance (and appropriateness) of women's decision making during pregnancy. 3 Some

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Expecting Trouble: Surrogacy, Fetal Abuse, and New Reproductive Technologies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 7
  • 2 - The Tailor-Made Child: Implications for Women and the State 9
  • Notes 19
  • References 21
  • 3 - Fetal Personhood: Political Identity Under Construction 25
  • Notes 44
  • References 51
  • 4 - Fetal Endangerment Versus Fetal Welfare: Discretion of Prosecutors in Determining Criminal Liability 55
  • Notes 75
  • References 79
  • 5 - A Gender Analysis of Policy Formation: the Case of Fetal Abuse 85
  • Notes 103
  • References 104
  • 6 - Punishment, Treatment, Empowerment: Three Approaches to Policy for Pregnant Addicts 109
  • Notes 126
  • References 131
  • 7 - The Aclu Philosophy and the Right to Abuse the Unborn 135
  • Notes 140
  • 8 - The Trope of the Dark Continent in the Fetal Harm Debates: "Africanism" and the Right to Choice' 142
  • Notes 152
  • 9 - "Surrogate Mothering" and Women's Freedom: a Critique of Contracts for Human Reproduction 156
  • Notes 171
  • References 174
  • 10 - The "Gift" of a Child: Commercial Surrogacy, Gift Surrogacy, and Motherhood 177
  • Notes 196
  • References 200
  • About the Contributors 203
  • About the Book 205
  • Index 207
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