A History of the Fetus in Modern America
by Sara Dubow
RG600 .D83 2011
New Arrivals, 2nd floor
With all the talk by legislatures at the federal and state levels about reproductive rights, coupled with my attendance at my first baby shower this weekend, I obviously have the little humans on the brain. While it’s fun to track the size of the little ‘peanut’ from conception to birth with an app on your smartphone, that ability has even changed what it means to be growing up inside the womb as well.
Dubow, history professor at Williams College, chronicles how the fetus has been viewed from a historical perspective. Starting back to the 1870s with the medical developments and understanding of the human reproductive process, she explains how the unborn human beings came to have their own identity. The author then spends the majority of the text in the later half of the twentieth century, detailing the process by which the fetus acquired personhood, rights, and feelings. Dubow’s work can be used to gain insight into the current debates surrounding abortion and other fetal issues. Also impressive, the notes and bibliography sections of the book are nearly longer than the text – an excellent starting point for research on this topic.