The Criminalization of Pregnancy

August 1, 2022

signs outside the Supreme Court: Keep Abortion Safe and Legal

by Alice Rothchild

The following is an excerpt from Alice Rothchild’s op-ed, originally published in the Seattle Times.

The recent Supreme Court decision to end a woman’s right to abortion and the years of agitating and restrictions that led to that decision are a manifestation of a social trend to criminalize pregnancy.

Women and people capable of pregnancy are viewed as threats to their potential offspring, rather than as whole humans capable of making thoughtful and intelligent reproductive choices. This is reminiscent of a time where women were seen as inherently dangerous (see Adam and Eve), where the flaunting of female sexuality challenged the sacred social order, where a woman’s body was inherently her destiny and men were in charge solely by nature of being men.

The increasingly punitive misogyny arising among certain segments of our society is likely a response to the growing power of women taking their rightful places in contemporary life, challenging their traditional subservient positions in the home and workplace, provoking fear among some men who are being asked to share the tasks of homemaking and child rearing as well as traditional male roles at work. Women’s independence is seen as deeply emasculating.

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