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Giving Up BabySafe Haven Laws, Motherhood, and Reproductive Justice$
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Laury Oaks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479897926

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479897926.001.0001

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Girls at Risk of Dumping Their Newborns

Girls at Risk of Dumping Their Newborns

(p.75) 2 Girls at Risk of Dumping Their Newborns
Giving Up Baby

Laury Oaks

NYU Press

This chapter examines representations of pregnant women who cope with “unwanted newborns,” as seen in infant abandonment prevention advocacy, safe haven legal advocacy, and media coverage of women who have abandoned or safely surrendered newborns. Safe haven laws encourage “a subtle structure of surveillance over women, warning society to be alert to mothers who might abandon—or abort—their children.” The chapter considers how this surveillance structure is advanced by advocates who target teenagers and school-age populations. To understand how baby safe haven advocates have publicized the laws and educated the public about the need for them, the chapter looks at public service announcements, short videos, television and radio stories, websites, school curricula, and Facebook pages. It considers how these safe haven awareness campaigns promote visible images of good and bad mothers, and thus narrow ideas about the nature of maternal love and who deserves to be a mother.

Keywords:   pregnant women, unwanted newborns, infant abandonment, safe haven, safe haven laws, teenagers, awareness campaigns, good mothers, bad mothers, maternal love

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