Michele Goodwin hopes her book “Policing the Womb” will spark outrage

Rose Horowitz
5 min readJul 8, 2020

Goodwin is host of Ms. magazine’s new podcast “On the Issues,” which premiered on June 30. Goodwin is a frequent contributor to Ms. magazine and also serves on the executive committee of the ACLU National.

My 16th #WomentoFollow Profile

By Rose Horowitz

“Women are seen as property,” says law professor Michele Goodwin, who hopes her book, “Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood,” which was published March 12, will spark outrage. #WomentoFollow (16th ed.)

Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine. She is also Founding Director of its Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy.

“Women do not suspend their constitutional rights because they are pregnant. You don’t lose the right to vote because you become pregnant.” said Michele Goodwin in a phone interview from her office in California. Increasingly, states are using laws to punish women for their pregnancies, she says.

She hopes telling the stories of incarcerated women, many of them black & stigmatized for alcohol & drug use during pregnancy, will raise awareness of their plight. In this Op-ed, Goodwin points to how pregnancy has become a “political land mind.”

“This book attempts to provide a more nuanced picture of women who come under the state’s gaze,” she says. For example, in 2011, prosecutors in Indiana charged Chinese immigrant Bei Bei Shuai with first-degree murder & attempted feticide after the defendant attempted suicide.

When her boyfriend left her, Shuai tried to kill herself by eating rat poison. When a friend took her to the hospital, her baby died in her arms 3 days later. Police arrested Shuai. Prosecutors charged her with first-degree murder & attempted feticide.

Goodwin, who served as an expert witness in the case, said Shuai faced 40 years’ imprisonment. She ended up serving 2 years in prison. The charges were ultimately…



Rose Horowitz

Pulitzer-nominated Journalist. Founder & Host, #WomenToFollow https://bit.ly/2JwQWgV. Published: @nytimes @forbes