The burden of choosing wisely: Biopolitics at the beginning of life

Maria Fannin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Recent transformations in French maternal health care demonstrate how the government of the beginning of life encompasses an individual woman's desires and aspirations for the uses of her own body. Women are increasingly solicited by the French health care system to express their feelings, their wishes, and their distress to a medical professional for whom the solicitation of such narratives has become a professional specificity. This essay focuses on transformations of governmental power in the realm of reproduction articulated within French maternal health care policy, professional midwifery journals, and women's health activist literature. Crucially, the regulation of reproduction in France no longer takes place primarily through sanction or prohibition, but rather through what sociologist Dominique Memmi claims is the solicitation of narratives about one's own desires and hopes for the fate of one's body, a 'delegated biopolitics' of reproductive control. This essay suggests that the contemporary government of reproduction entrusts individuals with little more and no less than the imperative to 'choose wisely.'.

Translated title of the contributionThe burden of choosing wisely: Biopolitics at the beginning of life
Original languageSpanish
Pages (from-to)273-289
Number of pages17
JournalGender, Place and Culture
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • biopolitics
  • France
  • health care
  • midwifery
  • reproduction


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