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Critical Global Health: Evidence, Efficacy, Ethnography


Kelly Ray Knight
Kelly Ray Knight

Kelly Ray Knight is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. 

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Duke University Press
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Book Chapter


October 2015

This chapter describes how historic welfare debates and the emergent sciences of prenatal substance use exposure both influence the relationship between addicted pregnancy and the state. The ways addicted, pregnant women interacted with and avoided systems of care and control throughout their pregnancies was demonstrative of “stratified reproduction” (Rapp and Ginsburg, 1995)at work in the United States. Pregnant who used drugs were increasingly criminalized during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, a complex configuration of sophisticated scientific research and media-generated moral panic is shaping public perceptions about the individual and social consequences of addicted pregnancy. In the daily-rent hotels, when child custody was severed by the state, women turned to “kin of last resort”—relatives called upon to take custody of children to avoid their placement in the foster care system and adoption out to strangers.

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