The Reproductive Subject: The Reproductive Subject and the Embodied State of International Human Rights Law

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Abortion, Gender, Reproductive RIghts, Gender Hierarchy, Childbirth, Assisted Reproduction, Body Theory


To what extent is the legal subject gendered? Using illustrative examples from a range of jurisdictions and thematically organised chapters, this volume offers a comprehensive consideration of this question. With a systematic, accessible approach, it argues that law and gender work to co-produce the legal subject. Cumulatively, the volume's chapters provide a systematic evaluation of the key facets of the legal subject: the corporeal, the functional and the communal. Exploring aspects of the legal subject from the ways in which it is sexed and sexualised to its national and familial dimensions, this volume develops a complete account of the various processes through which legal orders produce gendered subjects. Across its chapters, each theoretically ambitious in its own right, this volume outlines how the law not only acts on the social world, but genders it.

This chapter engages the reproductive subject of international human rights law, a subject who conceives, gestates and births, or seeks to avoid them. Reproduction is a fascinating site for the critical study of gender and law because it necessitates grappling with bodies.