Law professor and activist Pamela D. Bridgewater argues that the lawmakers who wrote the Thirteenth Amendment with the intent of ending slavery understood that human breeding-forcing women to have babies-was a central element of slavery. Knowing that it was politically dangerous to name reproductive slavery in the amendment, they framed the amendment with enough scope to restrain the government from ever again requiring women to give birth, or preventing them from doing so.
In other words, to limit or completely take away reproductive freedom is not only unconstitutional-it reinstitutes slavery.
Breeding a Nation explores a much-denied episode in US history-the deliberate "growing" of humans as a crop for sale. In 2008, two hundred years will have passed since the transatlantic slave trade was outlawed-ironically a victory that caused massive escalation in reproductive coercion. Once the flow of Africans to the United States was cut off, the only way to maintain the economy was to aggressively, even systematically, breed new "slaves" from the men and women already enslaved here. Some plantations even stopped growing crops so they could focus entirely on slave-breeding. In essence, slave-breeding became a vital feeder industry for agribusiness, and the massive wealth it produced undergirds America's position as a global superpower in the world today.
A must-read for activists and academics interested in civil rights, reproductive rights, and reparations. Breeding a Nation shows us firsthand how to evoke history to change the laws governing our reproductive lives. Bridgewater's arguments will invigorate legal, women's, and black studies for years to come.
About the Author
Lawyer, reproductive rights advocate/activist and law professor at American University in Washington, DC, Pamela D. Bridgewater has defended abortion clinics and acted for women's health for many years. Her pro bono work includes estate planning for people living with AIDS and representing peace and anti-globalization activists.
Author: Pamela D. Bridgewater
Pages: 220 pages
Publisher: South End Press (February 2008)