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

45 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2013 Last revised: 2 Dec 2013

Beth A. Burkstrand-Reid

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - College of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2013

Abstract

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.

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

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2310773

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)

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