Policing the womb

In collaboration with Bureau Clara Wichmann, the Faculty of Law and The Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

02dec2019 17.00 - 18.30


In this public lecture, ‘Policing the womb’, Chancellors Professor Michele Goodwin of Irvine Law School will address the chilling ways in which women have become the targets of secretive state surveillance of their pregnancies. Afterwards she will engage in a debate with Britta van Beers and Anniek de Ruijter.

Location: Amsterdam Law Hub

Michele Goodwin discusses how legislators increasingly turn to criminalizing women for miscarriages, stillbirths, and threatening the health of their pregnancies. The horrific results include women giving birth while shackled in leg irons, in solitary confinement, and even delivering in prison toilets. In parts of the United States pregnancy has become a bargaining chip with prosecutors offering reduced sentences in exchange for women agreeing to be sterilized. Often the women most affected are poor and of color. Professor Goodwin brings to light how the unrestrained efforts to punish and police women’s reproduction has led to the United States being the deadliest country in the developed world for pregnant women. 

About the speakers

Michele Bratcher Goodwin joined the faculty at the University of California-Irvine School of Law on July 1, 2014 as Chancellor's Professor of Law. She is also the Founding Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. Previously she held the Everett Fraser Chair in Law with joint appointments at the Medical School and School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. She is the founder of the Institute for Global Child Advocacy. She is the author of more than 70 articles, essays, and book chapters as well as several books, including Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts; Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families; and the highly anticipated, forthcoming publication Policing the Womb.

Amma Assante is Chair of the National Client Council, where she represents the interest of the clients of social services with regard to care, employment and income. She has dedicated her life to public service. After her Masters of political science at the University of Amsterdam, for a long time she has been an elected member of the City Council in Amsterdam, representing the labour party. Here she was the speaker for diversity and emancipation. She was also a member of the Dutch Parliament from September 2016 to March 2017. She was the designated speaker for higher education. Her political activities were always combined with her work in the field of social care domain; asylumseekers; youth services and public health. She has worked on poverty and debt and advised government and public authorities on a myriad of social service issues.

Britta van Beers teaches and writes about the legal-philosophical aspects of the governance of biomedical technologies. She is particularly intrigued by the legal and philosophical questions raised by assisted reproductive technologies, such as wrongful birth and wrongful life actions, selective reproduction and reproductive tourism. In more recent work, she has focused on personalised medicine and human gene editing. She has actively contributed to public debates on new technologies by writing essays and op-eds, and speaking as an expert for the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives.

Anniek de Ruijter is Associate Professor European law at the University of Amsterdam and director of Bureau Clara Wichmann, a women’s rights organization that develops strategic litigation for gender equality. In her academic work, Annieks researches the intersection of European Union law and health law and policy. In this respect she focuses on constitutional questions regarding the EU role in human health and risk regulation. In 2017 she received the Veni award of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for a four-year research project on improving the EU constitutional order for responding to human health disasters such as pandemics or bioterrorist attacks.

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Gepubliceerd door  Spui25