"A compelling analysis of the many ways in which pregnant women are held accountable for the health of their fetuses." -- Monica J. Casper, author of The Making of the Unborn Patient: A Social Anatomy of Fetal Surgery
From the Back Cover
The 1966 edition of the leading obstetrics textbook states that pregnant women can safely smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day. Yet today, women who smoke during pregnancy are among the most vilified figures in public health campaigns. This shift is not due solely to medical findings indicating that cigarette smoking may harm the fetus, says Laury Oaks. Also coming into play are a variety of social factors that converged more than a decade ago to create the category of the "pregnant smoker."
This book charts the emergence of smoking during pregnancy as a public health concern and social problem. Oaks looks at the emphasis public health educators place on individual responsibility, current legal and social assertion of fetal personhood, changing expectations of pregnant and prepregnant women, and the advent of antismoking campaigns. She explores how public health educators discuss "the problem" among themselves, how they communicate with pregnant smokers, and how these women in turn understand the "risk" of fetal harm. Finally, Oaks argues that "objective" statistics on the effects of smoking on the fetus must be assessed within a cultural context. Rather than bombarding pregnant women with statistics, health educators should consider the daily lives of these women and their socioeconomic status to understand why some women choose to smoke during pregnancy. Without downplaying the seriousness of the health risks that smoking poses to women and their babies, this book supports new efforts that challenge the moral policing of pregnant smokers.