Planned? Medicine, Inequality, and Pregnancy in the United States

My book-in-progress, Planned? (under contract with University of California Press), uses the case of unintended pregnancy prevention to challenge the pervasive idea that individual planning is an effective solution for social inequality.

Nearly half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Medical experts and policymakers view this as a major public health failure. However, based on 73 in-depth interviews and ethnographic data, Planned? shows that many women are not nearly so sure they want to avoid pregnancy by chance. In fact, their stories reflect a broader phenomenon that is seldom acknowledged in medicine: a person’s feelings about pregnancy are not always clear and binary.

By listening to everyday women’s voices, I provide insight into how and why their lives so often diverge from medical ideals. And by analyzing public health programs and clinical interactions, I reveal that the pregnancy planning paradigm puts the onus on women to plan their lives to meet often unattainable expectations in a social landscape characterized by inequality and precarity.