Protecting the future child: Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, easy rescue and the regulation of maternal behaviour

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This paper argues that social contexts of inequality are crucial to understanding the ethics of gestational harm and responsibility. Recent debates on gestational harm have largely ignored the social context of gestators, including contexts of inequality and injustice. This can reinforce existing social injustices arising from colonialism, socio-economic inequality and racism, for example, through increased regulation of maternal behaviour. To demonstrate this, I focus on the related notions of the ‘future child’ and an obligation of easy rescue, which have been used to discuss the ethics of gestational harm in the context of alcohol consumption during gestation and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). I use a feminist perspective to evaluate these ideas and conclude that anyone concerned with remediation of social injustice has good reason to be suspicious of the notion of the future child in the context of gestational harm.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • easy rescue
  • FASD
  • gestational harm
  • maternal behaviour
  • responsibility

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