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Anthropologist Linda Layne takes a theoretically informed approach to the topic of miscarriage and stillbirth. About 20 per cent of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage or stillbirth, yet pregnancy loss is not a socially accepted topic of discussion. To cope, many middle-class women join pregnancy loss support groups. Layne studies these groups and the rituals they create to help would-be-parents through their loss. The book takes an historical look at pregnancy loss in America and then moves to the present, examining how current reproductive technologies (home pregnancy tests, sonograms, etc.) and the abortion debate have reworked notions of "foetal personhood." Layne rounds out her argument by calling for feminists to put pregnancy loss on their agenda to help increase awareness about this hidden but painful subject and to effect necessary changes and improvements in the current socio-medical management of pregnancy loss.
Linda L. Layne is Hale Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies on the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.