“Policing Pregnancy” a one-day conference on maternal autonomy, risk and responsibility April 13, 2016

When: Wednesday 13 April 2016, 9am – 4.45pm.

Where: Royal College of Physicians,11 St Andrews Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4LE

‘Better safe than sorry’ has become the central plank of advice to pregnant women, framing discussions around drinking, eating, and other forms of behaviour. This advice often brings with it a powerful impulse both to moralise about the behaviour and attitudes of pregnant women, and to bring in new forms of regulation and oversight. A central aim of this event is to assess the tension that exists between efforts to promote awareness of risk and the resultant policing of pregnancy.

The topic of drinking and pregnancy forms the starting point for event, and discussion will cover developments in countries that have conventionally been thought of as the cultural and policy opposite to the United States, for example Scandinavia. We are delighted to welcome Lynn Paltrow of the US National Advocates for Pregnant Women to open the Symposium, with a lecture on the policing of pregnant women in the US, which will discuss alcohol and other drugs.

Afternoon sessions will consider topics where relate trends seem apparent and consider how developments contest the principle of autonomy. A roundtable session will discuss how food intake has become a locus for policy-making through elevated concerns about overweight and obesity, and the conference will end with a discussion about the ways in which women’s birth choices and experiences are constrained.

The Policing Pregnancy conference is a collaboration between British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, and Birthrights. The event is of interest to practitioners, advocates, academics, policy-makers, journalists – and anyone else who is concerned about the expansion of risk thinking and its effects for the autonomy of women.

See here for the programme, and to book a place:


If you have any questions or queries about this event, please contact shaheen.hashmat@bpas.org.

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