In this video I outline why medicine and big swaths of society believe that the foetus is more important than the woman who is pregnant. Why did we stop seeing pregnant women as the focus of pregnancy? Why are women now often characterised as a “foetal container”? And what impact did medical developments in obstetric care have on this shift? Watch to find out.
In conversation with… Mara about ‘obstetric violence’
I am delighted to be joined by Mara to talk about ‘obstetric violence’. This is such an important topic, highlighting the violence and abuse women experience in relation to pregnancy, labour and delivery.
Mara defines obstetric violence as:
‘a form of misogynist violence and oppression that controls, takes away or submits the women’s autonomy in the decision making over their reproductive system. And from which a hierarchical power is built in which any abuse, mistreatment or humiliation is justified, protected and promoted by an anti-woman and anti-mother patriarchal ideology.’
Mara (Jesusa) Ricoy Olariaga also known as Matriactivista is a birth educator, activist, radical feminist, poet, writer and medical interpreter. She funded the global movement The Roses Revolution and has published 3 books in Spanish about feminism, birth and its representation in media and movies. She is also a mother of three children. Find Mara on social media: matriactivista.
If you have been effected by any of the issues raised in this video, find further information and support here.
Abortion is criminalised in the UK
Julie Bindle interviews me about my research
Early in January 2023, Julie Bindle and I met online to record an interview about my research for Julie’s substack site. During the interview we talked about the fact that abortion is still illegal in Britain, that vulnerable women are criminalisation for ending their own pregnancies, crisis pregnancies, the Infanticide Act, and what can be done to stop this injustice for women.
I’ve been a huge admirer of Julies for a long time, so it was an absolute honour to speak with her about these important issues. Her work fighting for women’s rights is commendable.
The interview was turned into a podcast that can be listened to here or on your podcast provider of choice.
What is the foetus-first mentality?
In this video I outline the “foetus-first mentality”: the prioritisation of foetuses over women. Many agree that an unborn child is important. But, as I explain, when a foetus is considered more important than the pregnant woman, this becomes very troublesome and dangerous for women.
What is a ‘crisis’ pregnancy and why do women experience them?
In recent videos I have talked a lot about ‘crisis’ pregnancies. In this video I explore the idea of a ‘crisis’ pregnancy in more detail. I consider what a ‘crisis’ pregnancy is, why women experience them, and the impact for women who experience them.
Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother – Book Launch
In February 2022, Gender and Law at Durham (GLAD) and the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ) hosted the launch of Dr Emma Milne’s (Durham Law School) book Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother.
Dr Milne presented the key findings from the book, outlining the implications for criminal law, criminal justice, and academic research in the areas of infanticide and women’s offending. A short commentary on the book was delivered by:
- Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
- Professor Michelle Oberman, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara University
- Professor Sally Sheldon, Kent Law School, University of Kent
About the book
Analysis of criminal cases reveals that women suspected of killing their newborn children are some of the most vulnerable in our society and that infanticide is not just a historical issue but one that has modern implications. While women are less likely to commit violent crime, maternal infant homicide is an enduring form of offending that needs to be understood in a wider social context.
In Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide, Milne provides a comprehensive analysis of conviction outcomes through court transcripts of 15 criminal cases in England and Wales during 2010 to 2019. Drawing on feminist theories of responsibilisation and ‘gendered harm’, she critically reflects on the gendered nature of criminal justice’s responses to suspected infanticide.
This contemporary study makes a novel contribution to the fields of law, criminology and gender studies, arguing that through its inability to recognise the vulnerable position of accused women, and respond accordingly, the application of law reflects wider social judgments of pregnant women and mothers who challenge or fail to fulfil ideals of motherhood.
What is telemedical abortion and why is it important?
In March 2020 the UK Government introduced temporary measures to allow women to access earl medical abortions at home without needing to go to a clinic. This service needs to be made permanent. In this video I outline what telemedical abortion is, why it needs to become permanent, and the risks for women if at-home abortions are revoked.
Find out more about the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) campaign Care Not Criminalisation.
If you are pregnant and you need help and support, including advice about abortion, then contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service or MSI Reproductive Choices UK.
What is the problem with expecting women to put their children first?
In previous videos I have discussed the myths of motherhood, the expectation that women will be intensive mothers, and the damaging concept of ‘mother blame‘. In this extended video I build on each of these ideas about mothering to consider how and why we expect women to put their children first. I explore the history of this social and cultural expectation and the continuing detrimental consequences for women.
Webinar with Libertas Chambers
In October 2021, I presented at a Libertas Chambers event with Felicity Gerry QC. I discussed some of the key findings from my book Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother (Emerald Publishing Limited, 2021) and Felicity gave some practical tips to barristers and solicitors who might defend women accused of crimes related to an infant’s death. You can watch the full webinar here.
Why are mothers to blame for everything?
When women have ‘problems’ or ‘fail’ as mothers, or children are seen to be ‘problems’, it is often women, the mother, who is blamed. Why is this? Why do we blame mothers? What is mother blame? What impact does it have on women and their families? Why does society blame women when they or their children face difficulties and hardships? Find out in this video.