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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Adverse Birth Outcomes, “Bad Fathers,” and Disciplining Risk: A Place for a Feminist Voice in Bioethics

  • Author(s): Dowdell, Megan
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License

In the past decade, several clinical studies have attempted to identify causes of adverse birth outcomes, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm birth, by studying paternal race or ethnicity as a risk factor. In US history, mothering, particularly women of color’s mothering, has been scrutinized and regulated. So, at first, the attention turned toward paternal biology may appear to be a feminist project, drawing attention toward the “other half” of infants’ biological information. However, the conceptual framework of such research implicates ideological notions of race, class, and gender, which discipline how we identify risk, make allowances for medical atrocities and discrimination, and are “inscribed” on the body.

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