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Unhappy endings: a feminist reappraisal of the women's health movement from the vantage of pregnancy loss


  • Layne, Linda L.


This essay contrasts the rosy birth scenarios of the natural childbirth movement with reproductive disaster stories of members of pregnancy loss support groups and women from toxically assaulted communities in the US who have suffered pregnancy loss. I argue that both biomedical obstetrics and the women's health movement critique of it share a belief in the ability to control reproduction so that there will be a positive outcome. I show that this emphasis on happy endings (whether believed to be the result of medical intervention, or women's natural inborn powers to reproduce) exacerbates the experience of those whose pregnancies do not end happily. I show how the women's health movement's emphasis on the importance of women being in control of their own bodies is related to a broader "culture of meritocracy" which contributes to maternal blame (and self-blame) when pregnancies are not perfect.

Suggested Citation

  • Layne, Linda L., 2003. "Unhappy endings: a feminist reappraisal of the women's health movement from the vantage of pregnancy loss," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(9), pages 1881-1891, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:9:p:1881-1891

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    Cited by:

    1. van der Sijpt, Erica, 2010. "Marginal matters: Pregnancy loss as a social event," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(10), pages 1773-1779, November.
    2. repec:eee:socmed:v:184:y:2017:i:c:p:75-83 is not listed on IDEAS


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