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Accepted Paper:

Good Care, Bad Mothers: Mothering Decisions and Care in the Subversion of Pandemic Restrictions  
Kelsey Marr (University of British Columbia Okanagan) Charlotte Waltz

Paper short abstract:

We draw on ethnography in Ireland and Sweden. Dominant pandemic logics demand “good care” is synonymous with social distancing. We draw on interlocutor’s experiences with pandemic-era reproduction to argue that such logics are not in the best interest of mothers or children (born and unborn).

Paper long abstract:

Care is central to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spatial and physical separations are imposed in the name of care. Reproductive health care access is limited to distance patients and practitioners. Social distancing recommendations guide us to “stay-away” from those we care for most. Yet our ethnographic research on abortion in Ireland and reproduction in Sweden suggest that pandemic logics of care based on distancing and isolation are in tension with enactments of care associated with “mothering” (Branicki 2021; Ruddick 1980, 1989; Mol 2008). Limiting abortion access may mean a woman must raise a child she cannot care for. Distancing children may negatively impact their social development. In this paper, we problematize normative assumptions around care ethics and motherhood (Gilligan 1982) to explore how interlocutors navigate these tensions in their reproductive considerations, desires, and practices. We argue that to be “good mothers” our interlocutors enact care for their children (born and unborn) which subverts and opposes the dominant logics of pandemic care of government and public health mandates (Stevenson 2014). In doing so, they spark questions about the ethics of “good pandemic care” and the types of people, bodies, and experiences, pandemic restrictions “care for.” The dominant logics of “good pandemic care” are not universally equitable to “good care” in mothering. We engage with a broad understanding of mothering, which includes the decisions not to have children.

Panel P013b
Motherhood Transformed and Transforming; Discussing the role of motherhood(s) and mother work in constructing futures of hope II
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -