Policing Pregnant Bodies: From Ancient Greece to Post-Roe America

Johns Hopkins Univ. Oct. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781421447636. $29.95. HIST
With the battle for women’s right to control their bodies and their choices to bear children again in the headlines, Crowther’s (science, technology, and medical history, Univ. of Oklahoma; Adam and Eve in the Protestant Reformation) book is both timely and important. She traces the history of human reproduction from ancient Greece to the contemporary United States, emphasizing the relationship of the fetus to the mother. The book indicates that ancient philosophers and early scientists—all men—considered the fetus to be of primary importance. They believed that women and their uteruses were merely vessels to carry a baby, and they were viewed as separate entities, one active and growing, the other a passive incubator. It is easy to see that despite the major gains in scientific and medical knowledge, these basic attitudes prevail. In fact, historically, women have been prosecuted for murder after miscarriages. Crowther draws a map from the early thinkers to the current group of anti-reproductive rights activists, who are causing increased maternal mortality by restricting access to needed health care, nutrition, and support for mothers and children.
VERDICT This book is a wake-up call for those who care about and for women and children.
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