Death Before Birth: Liminal Bodies and Legal Frameworks

Karolina Kuberska, Danielle Fuller, Jeannette Littlemore, Sheelagh McGuinness*, Sarah Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

5 Citations (Scopus)


Following a pregnancy loss, both the woman’s body and that of the fetus have somewhat uncertain statuses; both occupy a liminal space between different states of being. The woman has begun to develop an identity as a mother but cannot perform this identity with this particular child in the way she had expected; she has lost something that was physically part of her but that was also on track to become a person in their own right. The fetus, too, occupies a liminal space in that it lies somewhere between a baby and ‘human tissue’; it is at once part of the mother and a separate entity, and, in many cases, it embodies an imagined future that will never be. This chapter has two connected aims. First, it shows how metaphor analysis can be used to inform socio-legal understanding of pregnancy loss with a particular focus on its status as a liminal, embodied experience. This new understanding can inform researching and teaching on the body by showing how metaphor can be used as a socio-legal method. Second, it contributes to the increased interest in, and value of, liminality in health law scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Jurisprudence of the Body
EditorsChris Dietz, Mitch Travis, Michael Thomson
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783030422004
ISBN (Print)9783030421991, 9783030422028
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Socio-Legal Studies
ISSN (Print)2947-9274
ISSN (Electronic)2947-9282

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Fetal remains
  • Liminality
  • Metaphor
  • Reproductive loss
  • Socio-legal


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