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Governed through Choice"Autonomy, Technology, and the Politics of Reproduction"$
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Jennifer M. Denbow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479828838

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479828838.001.0001

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Informed Consent Laws

Informed Consent Laws

Ultrasound, Surveillance, and Postfeminist Reproductive Rights

(p.97) 3 Informed Consent Laws
Governed through Choice

Jennifer M. Denbow

NYU Press

Chapter 3 examines recent state-level informed consent laws, with a focus on laws that mandate ultrasounds before abortion. Beginning with an exploration of gender, neoliberalism, and biomedicalization, it shows that current debates over reproductive health and services are entangled with and informed by neoliberal and postfeminist perspectives, which emphasize the freedom and independence of agents and obscure power relations and social context. Feminist ideas of rights and empowerment are thereby perverted and employed to justify calls for individual responsibility and heightened surveillance of women. The chapter argues that in recent reproductive law, neoliberal and postfeminist perspectives converge with the tradition of autonomy as proper self-management to produce a new understanding of autonomy as risk avoidance. Moreover, the biomedicalization of reproduction, which frames reproductive health as a matter of individual moral responsibility, has facilitated and converged with these frameworks. The frameworks of postfeminism, neoliberalism, and biomedicalization provide context for the examination of recent state-level abortion restrictions and the role of ultrasound within them. The chapter shows that sonograms play a key role in shaping and representing cultural and political understandings of pregnancy and fetuses.

Keywords:   informed consent laws, abortion, ultrasound, biomedicalization, neoliberalism, postfeminism

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