Holistic Pregnancy: Rejecting the Theory of the Adversarial Mother

65 Pages Posted: 10 May 2015

Date Written: May 1, 2015


In its zealous effort to protect the lives and health of unborn children, the law frequently views the expecting mother with suspicion. In its most extreme form, the law regards the potential mother as a potential murderess. This perspective does not reflect the nature of pregnancy, it undermines the autonomy of loving mothers, and it is detrimental to children. Regardless of whether there is any conflict between mother and fetus, the State presumes the mother to be a threat to her fetus and subjugates her rights as a result. The State interferes with the mother’s autonomy, bodily integrity, parental rights, and physical freedom. This overreach of authority has disastrous consequences for mothers, children, and families. This article proposes a reconceptualization of pregnancy that reflects maternal and scientific understandings of pregnancy. Further, it offers a path toward recognition of the pregnant woman as an expecting mother.

Keywords: pregnant women, women's rights, equal protection, fetal rights, unborn children, involuntary treatment, bodily integrity, state intervention, adversarial view, separate existence view, unique relational existential reality, criminal law, family law, constitutional law, medical intervention

Suggested Citation

Kitchen, Rona Kaufman, Holistic Pregnancy: Rejecting the Theory of the Adversarial Mother (May 1, 2015). Hastings Women's Law Journal, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2015, Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2601355

Rona Kaufman Kitchen (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

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