Session: Pregnancy, Parenting and Criminalization: A Social Work Perspective Grounded in Reproductive Justice (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

253 Pregnancy, Parenting and Criminalization: A Social Work Perspective Grounded in Reproductive Justice

Saturday, January 14, 2023: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Encanto B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Gender
Symposium Organizer:
Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Reproductive justice is an intersectional, human rights-based framework, social movement and means of praxis, developed by 12 Black women in 1994. It centers the fundamental human rights to: (1) have children, (2) not have children, (3) parent with dignity and respect, and (4) uphold sexual and bodily autonomy. Surveillance and criminalization of Black and Brown bodies perpetuates reproductive oppression and undermines social work’s core values of self-determination, dignity, and anti-racism. This symposium investigates intersections of pregnancy, parenting, and criminalization, highlighting scholarship by early career researchers grounded in reproductive justice.

Study 1 is a critical phenomenological study of the childbirth and pregnancy experiences of formerly incarcerated Black women. Drawing on Black feminist, anti-carceral, and anti-violence frameworks, this study highlights how maternal care for incarcerated women neglects their violence histories—particularly sexual and domestic violence. In doing so, violence is perpetrated through reenactment of trauma and through direct acts, such as shackling during childbirth and other custodial practices.

Study 2 uses qualitative methods to foreground incarcerated mothers’ envisioned futures and how envisioning is a resistance strategy that reaffirms their humanity and dignity. Participants’ visions of the future reveal the various ways in which motherhood identity is negotiated, reclaimed, yearned for, and contested in the face of reproductive oppressions. These findings provide depth to a crucial aspect of reproductive justice: securing and protecting the right for incarcerated mothers to parent safely and with dignity.

Study 3 uses quantitative methods to elucidate the “long arm of maternal incarceration.� Using a sample of 1,099 mother-child dyads participating in a home visiting program for low-income families, a path analysis revealed that incarceration prior to their child’s birth was indirectly associated with greater social-emotional problems in young children via poorer maternal mental health. These findings highlight the need to address systemic forces that may compromise the mental health of women with incarceration histories.

Study 4 uses reflexive thematic analysis to understand physicians’s perspectives on mandated reporting of substance use in pregnancy. Social workers were frequently involved or led decision-making around mandated reporting. Physicians often found social workers to be overly enthusiastic about mandated reporting and perceived that social workers believe mandated reporting leads to positive interventions. These findings have important implications for multidisciplinary care teams, where physicians generally hold greater power.

Study 5 utilizes a modified grounded theory approach to surface multiple ways stigma and discrimination toward childbearing people using drug emerge within health systems. Enacted, anticipated, and internalized stigma in health systems perpetuated risk of overdose, with postpartum women describing avoidance of care and disclosure, undergirded by fear of punitive action and historical mistreatment by providers. These findings highlight the need for anti-racist provider- and systems-level stigma interventions

Through an investigation of pregnancy, mothering, and criminalization, this symposium centers reproductive justice and the possibilities it offers for social work scholarship and practice. For communities living at the intersection of over-surveillance/criminalization and whose parenting and fertility are devalued, reproductive justice provides important strategies for battling inequality.

* noted as presenting author
Reclaiming Visions of the Future: Incarcerated Mothers and the Right to Parent with Dignity
Celina Doria, MSW, University of Chicago; Gina Fedock, PhD, University of Chicago; Marion Malcome, MSW, University of Chicago
The Long Arm of Maternal Incarceration: Indirect Associations with Children's Social-Emotional Development
Anthony Gómez, MSW, University of California, Berkeley; Joshua Mersky, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; ChienTi Plummer Lee, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Lixia Zhang, PhD, University of Northern Iowa; Dylan Jackson, PhD, The Johns Hopkins University; Rebecca Shlafer, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Exploring Physicians' Perceptions of Social Workers in Mandated Reporting of Substance Use during Pregnancy
Reiley Reed, MPH, University of California, Berkeley; Margaret Mary Downey, PhD, MSW, Tulane University; Sarah Roberts, DrPH, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health; Claudia Zaugg, MPH, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health; Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
"Fear Gets in the Way": Multiple Stigmas and Discrimination in Health Settings As a Driver of Overdose Among Postpartum Women
Brooke West, Columbia University; Talia Nadel, Columbia University; Jaih Craddock, PhD, MSW, MA, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Bethany Medley, MSW, Columbia Univeristy; Morgan Philbin, PhD, Columbia University; Pia Mauro, PhD, Columbia University
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