From Sex for Pleasure to Sex for Parenthood: How the Law Manufactures Mothers

Beth A. Burkstrand-Reid

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law

December 1, 2013

Hastings Law Journal, 2013, Forthcoming

As soon as sperm enter a woman, so do law and politics, or so the decades-long disputes surrounding abortion suggest. Now, however, renewed debates surrounding contraceptives show legal and political interference with women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy may actually precede the sperm. This Article argues that, increasingly, women even thinking about having sex are defined socially and legally as “mothers.” Via this broad definition of who is a “mother," the State extends its reach into women’s decision-making throughout their reproductive lifetime.

This Article argues that the State simultaneously devalues women’s choices to have sex for pleasure, which this Article calls desexualization, and uses medical rituals associated with motherhood, which this Article calls ritualization, to persuade women to accept the role of mother. Desexualization and ritualization signal the State’s attempt to influence women’s sexual and reproductive decision-making not only in the context of abortion but also in the areas of contraception, pregnancy, and childbirth.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: motherhood, sex, abortion, contraception, contraceptives, Plan B, childbirth, women, mothers

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: August 16, 2013 ; Last revised: December 2, 2013

Suggested Citation

Burkstrand-Reid, Beth A., From Sex for Pleasure to Sex for Parenthood: How the Law Manufactures Mothers (December 1, 2013). Hastings Law Journal, 2013, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2310773

Contact Information

Beth A. Burkstrand-Reid (Contact Author)
University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law ( email )
103 McCollum Hall
P.O. Box 830902
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
United States
402-472-3158 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 815
Downloads: 79
Download Rank: 231,053

© 2016 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollobot1 in 0.204 seconds