Reproducing Fat-Phobia: Reproductive Technologies and Fat Women’s Right to Mother

May Friedman

Abstract


In September 2011, doctors from the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society met todiscuss the need for a clear policy denying ivf and other forms of assisted reproductivetechnology to women who have a bmi in the “obese” category (Abraham). While thedebate did not result in a final policy for the Society, the dialogue stemmed from thefact that many Canadian clinics have already instituted such policies independently.Likewise, many other jurisdictions continue to institute similar policies of denyingreproductive technologies to women who are viewed as overly large. This paperaims to discuss the specific challenges faced by fat people attempting to build familyin non-normative ways. Specifically, by looking at the implications for fat bodiesrequiring reproductive assistance as well as fat people looking to build family throughadoption, I aim to unpack some of the ways that fat people are intrinsically viewedas unworthy of parenting. This is especially true for fat women with intersectingidentities such as race and class that immediately position them outside of the realmof “good motherhood.” This article aims to critically respond to the growing trend ofdiscrimination and explores the underlying messages about maternity, reproduction,and fat that underpin attempts to stem fat women’s paths to family.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.