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Autonomous Motherhood?

A Socio-Legal Study of Choice and Constraint

by (author) Susan B. Boyd, Dorothy E. Chunn, Fiona Kelly & Wanda Wiegers

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
May 2015
General, General, General, Marriage & Family, Children, Gender Studies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2015
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  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
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Since the end of the Second World War, increasing numbers of women have decided to become mothers without intending the biological father or a partner to participate in parenting. Many conceive via donor insemination or adopt; others become pregnant after a brief sexual relationship and decide to parent alone.

Using a feminist socio-legal framework, Autonomous Motherhood? probes fundamental assumptions within the law about the nature of family and parenting. Drawing on a range of empirical evidence, including legislative history, case studies, and interviews with single mothers, the authors conclude that while women may now have the economic and social freedom to parent alone, they must still negotiate a socio-legal framework that suggests their choice goes against the interests of society, fatherhood, and children.

About the authors

Susan B. Boyd is a professor and holds the Chair in Feminist Legal Studies in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia.

Susan B. Boyd's profile page

Dorothy E. Chunn is a professor emerita of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University.

Dorothy E. Chunn's profile page

Fiona Kelly is a senior lecturer in the School of Law at La Trobe University.

Fiona Kelly's profile page

Wanda Wiegers is a professor in the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan.

Wanda Wiegers' profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘Through a refined investigation showing sociological, legal, and historical depth, the authors offer many insightful answers to the problem of social reproduction which continues to be framed in terms of private and personal matters…This book offers an innovative study of an over-neglected topic.’

Canadian Journal of Family and Youth vol 9:01:2017

‘Autonomous Motherhood is a wonderful and welcome contribution to feminist socio-legal literature….It raises provocative, timely, and important questions, and will provide the basis for future scholarship on single motherhood, relational autonomy, and legal regulation.’

Canadian Journal of Family Law vol 30:01:2017

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