WOMEN AS WOMBS by Janice G. Raymond


Reproductive Technologies and the Battle over Women's Freedom
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 A radical feminist's angry call for an end to reproductive technologies and contracts that she views as violence against women. Raymond (Women's Studies & Medical Ethics/UMass at Amherst; The Transsexual Empire, 1979) characterizes much reproductive technology as ``brutality with a therapeutic face,'' and she says that reproductive contracts (such as those involving surrogacy) create international traffic in fetuses and women's bodies. To make her points, she reviews new technologies and procedures like in-vitro fertilization, sex predetermination, embryo transfer, fetal-tissue transplants, implantable contraception, and postmortem Cesarean sections, describing how they work and what their consequences are for women. Raymond provides a scholarly analysis of the political, legal, and ethical implications of these technologies, but she's not above using name-calling (``technotwits'') and loaded language (``ejaculatory fatherhood''; ``spermatic market'') to get her message across. She parts company with feminists who see reproductive technologies and contracts as liberating women and providing them with choices, and she disagrees with those who call for regulating these technologies, calling instead for their abolition because, she says, they abuse women's bodies under the guise of scientific advancement. Raymond urges women to reject the idea of motherhood as their true destiny and source of power, arguing that women's real power stems not from their biological capacity but from their courage to act in the world. In conclusion, Raymond calls for an international convention against medical exploitation of women--a convention that would declare contractual and technological reproduction to be a violation of women's human rights. Challenging ideas, expressed clearly and forcefully, that go provocatively against the grain of mainstream feminist thinking.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-250898-9
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993