This book explores regulatory conundrums around adolescent sexual health, abortion and assisted reproductive technologies in the UK. In doing so, it seeks to examine the various stages at which women's reproductive health comes into contact with government action and assesses how these legal and policy fields are shaped through the conceptual lens of policy networks. Transformed expectations of women's roles, along with developed biological capabilities and understandings of gender and sexuality have driven an increasingly complex politics of sex and reproduction. The book argues that assumed medial control over these issues is overshadowed by government calculations of cost-effectiveness. Moreover, decisions on the design of programmes and levels of access continually reflect traditional family formation. The outcome is unsurprisingly the marginalisation of women in publicly funded healthcare, but with a clear further impact on gender and sex minorities. COVID-19 has disrupted these dynamics further, altering the manner in which previously inhibited patients engage with the NHS. As the pandemic recedes it has become more timely than ever to consider the future of gendered healthcare in the UK, and to question the likelihood of long term change in the ability of patients to inform health policy decisions. The book will appeal to scholars and students of gender and health policy, law and politics, as well as healthcare practitioners.
Sarah Cooper is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Exeter, UK. She was Co-Chair of the Council for European Studies' 'Gender and Sexuality Research Network' from 2018-2021.