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The Price of Pleasure

62 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2011  

Shari Motro

University of Richmond - School of Law

Date Written: January 12, 2011


Condoms break. Diaphragms malfunction. Even hormonal contraceptives aren’t 100% effective. Three million American women become pregnant unintentionally every year, and the rate of unintended pregnancies is especially high among young unmarried women. What is the legal relationship between these women and the men with whom they conceive? Current law treats unmarried lovers as strangers, leaving women to bear most of the costs of “free love” on their own. This Article argues that a different default should apply. Unmarried lovers who become pregnant are neither spouses nor complete strangers; they are something in between. Sex creates a unique type of relationship, and sex that results in pregnancy extends this relationship. Unless the parties agree on a no-strings-attached rule, the law should reflect this reality regardless of whether the pregnancy ends in abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.

Keywords: pregnancy, feminism, family law, women, gender, sexuality, marriage, gay marriage, abortion, labor, unmarried, contract

JEL Classification: I08, J16, K08, K12, K31, K32

Suggested Citation

Motro, Shari, The Price of Pleasure (January 12, 2011). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 104, No. 3, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Shari Motro (Contact Author)

University of Richmond - School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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