Medical Decision Making and Fetal Interests in America, 1960 to the Present

Rebecca has a profile photo against a red backdrop with yellow imprint and the information for the event listed to the right.

Event Date

Betty Irene Moore Hall Room 3400

This talk shows how doctors, hospital administrators, lawyers, judges, and lawmakers employed claims of fetal personhood to compel pregnant women to undergo treatment they refused on behalf of the fetuses they carried between 1960 and the present. The vast majority of patients were poor women of color, who lacked the status and resources to combat the white, male professionals who intervened in their care. The stories described in this talk demonstrate that the politics and practices of fetal personhood in America extend beyond abortion and into the realm of medical decision-making and reinforce the central role that race and racism play in the practice and experience of American medicine.

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Rebecca Kluchin is a professor of American women and medicine at California State University, Sacramento. She writes about reproductive justice and women’s reproductive health in America.  Her first book, Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980 (Rutgers University Press, 2009), won the Francis Richardson Keller-Sierra Award for best monograph from the Western Association of Women’s Historians.