Bad Mom?

Are mothers hazardous to their children’s health? Law, culture, and the framing of risk is discussed this week, as we lay down the Law School’s Hopkins lecture.

On September 12, at 4:00 p.m., Pace Law School will host its annual James D. Hopkins Professor of Law Memorial Lecture in the Judicial Institute Lecture Hall on the WP Campus.

Law School Professor Linda C. Fentiman, who was named the James D. Hopkins Professor of Law for the 2011-2013 academic years, will give a thought-provoking lecture on “Are Mothers Hazardous to their Children’s Health: Law, Culture, and the Framing of Risk.”

Contrary to their self-image as the ultimate loving nurturers, mothers today find themselves cast in an unlikely role. The media, government, and healthcare professionals are putting a spotlight on mothers as a danger to their children’s health. Professor Fentiman will examine why this is happening and debunks the thinking that underlies it, specifically considering the social and psychological forces that shape our understanding of risk and exploring how American law is reinforcing prevailing stereotypes about what mothers must do to assure that their children are healthy. Professor Fentiman asserts that the current obsession with the ways in which mothers can affect their children’s health is misguided. It distorts government policy decisions, denies individuals important medical and child-rearing choice, and ignores the other powerful sources of harm to children, both human and environmental. This in turn diverts public attention, and resources, away from the many serious threats of harm to children. It prevents the government from taking meaningful public health actions which would limit harm to children in the future, as well as holding accountable those who have harmed children in the past.

RSVP to Brenda Thornton at bthornton@law.pace.edu or (914) 422-4123.