MOTHER TROUBLES by Julia E. Hanigsberg

MOTHER TROUBLES

Rethinking Contemporary Maternal Dilemmas
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Abusive mothers, divorced mothers, lesbian mothers, immigrant mothers, plus adoption, work, theology, and reinventing “new” mothers are among the maternal issues discussed in this wide-ranging collection of essays. Most of the women who have contributed to this volume, including editor Hanigsberg, are distinguished legal scholars. The others, including editor Ruddick (New School for Social Research), have backgrounds in political science, ethics, and theology. Each writer addresses an aspect of how women in their roles as mothers are profoundly and directly affected by law, politics, and the often conflicting mores of North American culture. Ranging from the moving, as in the opening section by Eva Feder Kittay (Philosophy/SUNY, Stony Brook) on raising her disabled daughter, to the muddy—a chapter in the last section from Lisa Ikemoto (Law/Loyola Law School) that links tougher immigration policies and attitudes toward immigrant mothers with the “women and children first” survivors of the Titanic—the authors address often familiar material (such as Columbia law professor Carol Sanger’s comments on mothers who work), as well as provocative questions on judging pregnant women who use drugs (from lawyer Lynn Paltrow of the Women’s Law Project). Paltrow illuminates the debate over fetal rights vs. women’s rights among others and questions the dearth of programs available to treat addicted women, before or after delivery. Why not multiple mothers (birth mother and adoptive mother) is a question posed by Drucilla Cornell (Law, Women’s Studies, and Political Science/Rutgers) in one of several essays that advocate the “it-takes-a-village” model of raising children. Although many of the quandaries described fall in the “same old, same old” category, the concise arguments and descriptions of conflicts of law vs. culture often cast new light on familiar darkness.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8070-6787-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999