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Marginalized Mothers, Reproductive Autonomy, and ‘Repeat Losses to Care’

21 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2012  

Pamela Cox

University of Essex

Date Written: December 2012


Over 70,000 children are ‘looked after’ by local authorities in England and Wales. Emerging research suggests that a significant proportion of their birth parents have either already lost a child to permanent adoption or will go on to lose others. These ‘repeat loss’ cases raise difficult questions about marginalized mothers and their reproductive autonomy. This article considers past and present tactics used by the state in its attempts to limit that autonomy, including institutionalization, sterilization, long‐acting contraception, and permanent adoption. It argues that the gradual democratization of intimate citizenship over the past century, defined as a person's ability to choose and direct their intimate relationships, has obliged the contemporary state to develop new tactics which aim to build personal capacity and to balance enhanced child protection with enhanced reproductive autonomy.

Suggested Citation

Cox, Pamela, Marginalized Mothers, Reproductive Autonomy, and ‘Repeat Losses to Care’ (December 2012). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 39, Issue 4, pp. 541-561, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2177158 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2012.00599.x

Pamela Cox (Contact Author)

University of Essex ( email )

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